4 Lifestyle Hacks to Save Money on Healthcare
Posted by November 23, 2015in Personal Wellnesson
If feeling good isn't enough motivation for you to adopt a healthy lifestyle, consider the fact that taking care of yourself can greatly reduce your health care costs. Trips to the doctor, medical tests, and other treatment will cost you money in the form of insurance co-payments and policy deductibles. The best way to reduce health care costs is to live a lifestyle that will limit your need for medical care.
"In general, people who lead healthier lifestyles are less likely to have chronic health care conditions that require regular physician visits, hospital care, or medications," says Sally Poblete, CEO of healthcare technology company Wellthie. She further explains that when consumers access medical care (beyond the annual preventive exams covered under an ACA policy), they typically have to pay a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance for the medical services.
Furthermore prescriptions typically require you to pay a portion of the cost. And often, health insurance plans won't pay for a doctor's visit before you meet an annual deductible amount, which can be thousands of dollars.
Here are four tips for adopting a lifestyle that may reduce your health care costs.
1. Avoid using tobacco products
One of the best ways to develop a healthy lifestyle is to avoid using cigarettes and other tobacco products.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. It leads to more than 480,000 deaths each year. The agency says smoking has caused more than 10 times as many premature deaths as all U.S. wars combined.
2. Take part in wellness programs
Many U.S. businesses use wellness programs to create a healthier workforce.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation's 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey, 81 percent of large employers with 200 or more workers and 49 percent of small employers offer programs to help workers stop smoking, lose weight, or make other changes to their lifestyle.
Joel White, president of the nonprofit Council for Affordable Health Coverage, says many companies offer to reduce their employees' share of insurance costs by up to 30 percent when they take part in wellness programs.
Wellness programs aren’t just for the office—people who are unemployed, or just want to keep track of their health outside of work have access to countless free online and mobile app wellness resources. MapMyFitness is a popular app to track physical activity, map jogging routes, or even log the food you eat. MyFitnessPal takes wellness a step further, and focuses specifically on weight loss and calorie counting. Both apps can also connect you with a community of people with similar health goals and aspirations to provide you with support and motivation.
3. Evaluate your need to lose weight
The CDC says that 69 percent of Americans age 20 and older are classified as overweight or obese. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, overweight people have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
To maintain a healthy weight, the CDC recommends striving to adopt a lifestyle that includes good nutrition, physical activity, and not eating more calories than you can burn in a day.
Your body mass index (BMI) can be used to estimate a healthy weight for your height. The CDC offers a BMI calculator online. However, it's important to remember that only a medical professional can truly evaluate your health and your risk of disease.
And though it can be tempting to try a fad diet that promises quick results with little effort, The Mayo Clinic strongly advises against these types of diets. Seek the support of medical professionals, family members, and friends before starting a weight-loss program.
4. Exercise regularly
According to the Mayo Clinic, routine exercise helps control weight, improve heart function, and strengthen muscle and bone. If you've been leading a sedentary life, however, be sure to consult a doctor before starting an exercise regimen.
While cardiac issues, such as heart attacks, are unusual during exercise, your risk will rise if you suddenly become active.
For beginners, the CDC recommends gradual exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is safe for most people. Ask your doctor to help you set realistic fitness goals based on your age and health.
You can take control.
Remember, no one has greater control over your health than you. In most cases, exercise, good eating habits, and wise lifestyle choices will improve your health. And being healthier means having fewer health insurance-related expenses.