With all this racket over whether current healthcare reform is good or bad for our country, I have a little secret that will help you cut the cost of healthcare for you and your family regardless of your insurance plan or income.
The purpose of healthcare insurance in the United States is to make paying for healthcare more manageable. However, when accidents or diseases occur, and the cost of recovery is more than a college education, it can feel unbearable.
Most people tend to stick with whatever insurance plan their employer provides. Even if the plan is not great, it usually provides decent coverage for check-ups, annual exams, dental cleanings, and emergency hospital visits (minus a co-pay).
I think my healthcare coverage is pretty good. It gets me everything I need and has a wide variety of professionals in my network across the US. I get an eye exam, contacts, and a discount on glasses every year. I get two dental cleanings, x-rays, and discounts on tooth repair. (For the record, I have only one cavity filling that I received when I was 26. Pretty darn good. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me good habits. Brusha brusha floss!) I get my annual girly exam to make sure my secret no-no places are healthy (always a blast). I also get a physical and blood work done occasionally to make sure my body is getting everything it needs. The only prescription I use is an oral contraceptive, and it is very cheap. In the future, I plan on taking advantage of other annual exams covered in my plan to check-all-up-in-there.
When I get sick, I rest and choose certain foods to heal me. I only go to a doctor when I have a bacterial infection that spreads faster than I can combat alone. I work out regularly and eat healthy most of the time. I choose to be happy and work hard to build a meaningful life. I am by no means perfect, nor do I intend to be – I simply do what I feel is responsible.
With my “it’s-not-a-big-deal-to-do-the-responsible-thing” attitude, I can not help but wonder how our country is in such a healthcare conundrum. I understand that accidents happen and incur tremendous financial hardship. I would absolutely feel very overwhelmed if I had to pay over $10,000 for hospital bills because of some wreck. I also understand that we humans are susceptible to infections, diseases, and cancers that cost quite a pretty penny to alleviate. My heart goes out to families who sacrifice everything they can to keep their loved ones alive in professional care. I have not (yet) experienced such financial burdens.
However, there are plenty of ailments that are a direct result of our own bad habits. Our day-to-day choices ultimately determine how much money we will have to fork over to sustain our lives in the future.
Say hello diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and obesity.
The problem is not whether your health insurance plan will pay for chronic care related to diabetes and heart disease. The problem lies in your day-to-day decisions.
Your day-to-day decisions are a product of your personal philosophy on health (and life in general). To choose foods that are harmful to your body, rather than foods that are beneficial to your body, is a direct result of your philosophy about food. To choose not to move your body and instead wonder why your joints and muscles ache all the time is a direct result of your philosophy about activity.
Your philosophy drives your decision-making. To eat veggies or not to eat veggies. To run or not to run. To be happy or not to be happy. These decisions are made based on your philosophy about them.
Your personal philosophy drives everything you do. It is fueled by the knowledge and experience acquired from every nook and cranny in your life. What you are exposed to and what you expose yourself to ultimately influence your philosophy on life and the choices you make.
The only way to dodge expensive chronic healthcare costs, not to mention the unnecessary stress related to getting sick, is to prevent the costs from occurring in the first place. This ultimately means taking responsibility of your body.
If you do not want to develop diabetes and pay for tremendous healthcare expenses, though your habits may suggest otherwise, you must change your personal philosophy on health, sugar intake, food, and enjoyment.
If you do not want to develop heart disease and pay for associated expenses, you must change your philosophy on food, activity, and stress.
If you do not want to get sick and take time off of work (or have to plow through an arduous day of work feeling like you-know-what), then get the rest your body needs, eat foods that are energizing and nutritious, lay off the junk, deal with your emotions in a mature manner, and take time to ground yourself through meditation or religion or family or whatever makes you feel grounded.
My little well-known-but-not-well-implemented secret is to take personal responsibility for your own well-being. Get your check-ups. Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Eat veggies and fruits. Remove toxic people from your life. Do things that are meaningful to you. Learn to be a master communicator so that you can have tough conversations with people you love. Choose to be happy and act upon the choice.
The Disappointing Truth
I know, we all want a trendy method with a complex formula and state-of-the-art machine to guide us toward a better life.
Never gonna happen.
The secret to health (and therefore low chronic healthcare costs) is to simply make daily decisions that support your health goals. It is boring and unromantic, but it is true.
This does not mean you must aim to be perfect. You will never make perfect decisions all the time. Instead, aim to be optimal. If you make good choices most of the time, then most of your life you will feel good and be healthy. You can not expect to feel good and be healthy each and every single day of your life. That is not practical. So, focus on “most of the time”. Give yourself some slack to enjoy some of the delicious rebelries of life (not a real word for the record), but keep yourself in check so that you do not stray from the optimal zone.
So, what are you going to do? Are you going to get off the couch and start running? Are you going to make an action plan to get healthy and prevent long-term disease and expensive healthcare? Are you going to make a few small changes here and there until they become habit? Think about your future. Think about how you want to feel 5, 10, even 15 years from now. How do you want to live your life then? Do you see yourself energetic and happy? Or do you see yourself getting pricked and prodded by medical professionals and taking a colorful array of pills? Decide how you want to feel throughout your life. Then, devise a plan that supports your decision. Commit to your decision and follow your plan each and every day for the rest of your life. When all is said and done, you will look back and be proud and thankful for your decision and commitment to your health.