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Resolve early to improve health

Guest Opinion

The pumpkin I carved for Halloween is still sitting on the porch, and multiple holidays stand between us and New Year’s Eve, but is it too early to make a resolution? Like many, I have tried (and failed) to do things that would benefit my health: eat less, exercise more, sleep better.... If you are like me and looking for another way to better your health—New Year’s resolution or otherwise—here are a few places to start:

1. Look for health insurance if you don’t have it.

It pains me to see patients suffer from treatable conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, without a way to pay for their treatments. Studies have shown for years that people who have health insurance live longer and feel healthier than those without insurance. We are currently in the “open enrollment” period for Idaho’s state health exchange. You can shop the free market for this year’s health insurance plans until Jan. 31, 2017, by accessing

Finding affordable health insurance can be difficult, but there are people nearby who can help. For example, Syringa Hospital & Clinics in Grangeville has two knowledgeable financial counselors who are certified to help you navigate the waters of finding health insurance. I would highly recommend giving the folks at Syringa a call—you might even discover that you qualify for a program such as Medicaid or a reduced fee payment plan without knowing it!

2. See your health care provider.

If it has been a while since you have seen a doctor, it could be a good idea to schedule an appointment for a health checkup. Even if you are feeling well, there are routine services (such as checking your blood pressure and getting the flu shot) that could keep you out of the hospital and feeling better for longer. If cost is a barrier to seeing your doctor, there are financial assistance programs at each of the area hospital/clinic groups that might help.

Although it does not replace having a relationship with a health care provider, there are other ways in town to receive affordable health services. The Lions Club does vision and hearing screenings. Partnerships for Healthy Communities sponsors diabetes and blood pressure screenings periodically around Idaho County. Syringa puts on an annual health fair (it was held May 21st this year) where you can get routine bloodwork checked. Keep your eyes and ears open in the community as these periodic occurrences happen.

Resolutions made around the turn of the year often do not last long. Getting health insurance and seeing your health care provider are two concrete steps toward better health that can pay big dividends in the future.

Dr. Scott Hippe is a resident physician from Boise, here in Grangeville for training in rural health. He has been working with the doctors and staff at Syringa Hospital and enjoying time in the nearby outdoors with his wife and dog.


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