Preventive vs. Reactive Healthcare

As the world learns to live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease, it?s critical to ensure our students have equitable access to preventive healthcare. While healthcare is more expensive in the United States than in other developed countries, all students in Chicagoland have access to preventive healthcare, regardless of their family?s income level. Illinois?s All Kids program provides free health coverage to children under age 19, regardless of documentation status.

A study in Canada confirmed that school-based health prevention programs that included robust physical education activities and healthy eating workshops were cost effective and led to students being healthier. Effective preventive health care for children and adolescents also comprises access to regular baseline screenings including dental, vision, and hearing; keeping vaccinations up to date; and mental health screenings and services as needed. Several obstacles continue to create inequities in the quality and consistency of young Chicagoans? access to preventive healthcare, including perceived inability to pay for services, distance from providers, time, and language barriers.?

We at CPASS recommend that communities focus on these strategies to to help serve all students:

  • Quality of life equity. In Chicago, the life expectancy gap continues to widen. White and Latinx people live an average of 80 years compared with Black people, who have a life expectancy of 71 years. Healthy Chicago 2025, a five-year community health improvement plan, identified that this inequity is largely due to inadequate living conditions and institutional inequalities. Community support includes making people feel safer in their neighborhood, providing better access to affordable housing, and increasing access to grocery stores that sell healthy foods.

  • Promote healthy behaviors. The University of Illinois Chicago?s Healthy Kids Lab works with families and communities to ?empower families to adopt and sustain food, sleep, and exercise routines that optimize child focus, attention, and behavior.? The City of Chicago?s Healthy Chicago Equity Zones initiative has worked with neighborhood organizations since 2021 with the goal of closing Chicago?s racial life expectancy gap.

  • Eligibility awareness. People who speak languages other than English are less likely to ?access preventative health care services for which they were eligible.? The Illinois School-Based Health Alliance and CountyCare ensure that all Chicagoans have regular access to preventive? health care, regardless of their ability to pay.

At CPASS Foundation, we are here to support traditionally underrepresented middle school, high school, and college students by introducing them to STEM subjects, majors, and training. We provide guidance and thought leadership to help create opportunities for students in Illinois to participate in STEM-related fields.?Contact Dr. Stephen Martin?to learn more about how you can partner with CPASS Foundation to create more opportunities for Black and other underrepresented students in the Chicago area.