A map helps you reach your destination. If your destination is improved health, here’s the roadmap.

Begin by enrolling in a health insurance plan. Then read the owner’s manual, which means learn what your insurance covers. (Cruise control is nice on a long trip, but if you don’t realize you have it, you can’t use it.) Using your health insurance as a guide, learn when to head to your primary care clinic and when to go to the emergency room.

Next stop: regular check-ups with your primary care clinic. Just as you maintain your vehicle, you can prevent health problems by seeing your doctor for well exams.

Finally, after your clinic visit, follow the recommendations of your health care team. Several weeks after your appointment, if you find you’re not following the doctor’s advice, figure out what’s keeping you from making the change. Is it because you forgot? You didn’t understand what you’re supposed to do? It’s too expensive?

For help in successfully following your roadmap to health, anyone who lives in Dallas County is welcome to contact the Health Navigation program at Dallas County Health for one-on-one help in reaching your goal. Call 515-993-3750 or email phn@dallascountyiowa.gov.

Ann Cochran writes from Dallas County Public Health.