How to be Healthy and Lower Your Healthcare Costs

This post was updated to include current healthcare cost data

how to be healthyHealthcare costs are expected to rise at an annual rate of 5.8% and reach nearly 20% of GDP or $4.6 Trillion by 2020 according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A recent Gallup Poll estimates unhealthy workers cost US business $153 Billion annually in lost productivity.  Of the nearly 110,000 full-time workers that were polled,

  • 1 in 7 or 13.9% of the workforce is of normal weight without any chronic health condition and takes 4 sick days per year.
  • 30% reported being overweight or obese with one or two chronic conditions and took nearly 13 sick days per year.  Those sick days cost businesses $32 Billion in lost Productivity.
  • Those that reported being overweight or obese with three or more chronic health conditions racked up over 42 sick days per year resulting in lost productivity of $81 Billion.

In another recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational trust reveals the average cost of a family policy jumped 9% to $17,322 in 2015.  Employees are currently paying 28% of the total cost of premiums in 2015.  Premiums are predicted to rise by 6.5% in 2017 according to Mercer Consulting.  Employee contributions for healthcare costs have tripled since 2001.  With wages stagnant, healthcare costs are increasing as a percentage of income and employers are expected to continue to shift costs to employees in an effort to force employees to use the healthcare system more efficiently.

So what can you do about rising healthcare costs?

Eat a High Fiber Diet Rich in Fruits and Vegetables

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals who consume a healthy diet low in fat and containing fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.  Individuals who consume diets high in fiber, found in legumes, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, have a decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

Exercise for 30 Minutes per Day

According to the American Heart Association, people who live an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of coronary heart disease than sedentary individuals.  Walking or jogging 12 miles per week can lower LDL (Bad) Cholesterol however, increasing HDL (Good) Cholesterol requires more intense exercise such as jogging 20 miles per week.  Studies have also shown that tai chi or Yoga exercise that involves slow, relaxing movements may provide similar health benefits as moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.  Many companies are realizing the benefit of offering exercise and wellness programs for their employees so check with your Human Resource Department for eligibility requirements.

Other Ways to Be Healthy

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks
  • Avoid processed foods and try to eat food as close to it's natural state as possible
  • Eat smaller portions on a smaller plate
  • Take a multi-vitamin daily
  • Keep your home clean of dust
  • Wash your hands often with soap
  • Keep Pets out of Your Bed
  • Brush and Floss Your Teeth
  • Quit Smoking or try those handheld vaporizers
  • Be sure to get a good nights sleep
  • Exercise your brain by reading, doing crossword puzzles, taking a night class, etc.
  • Learn how to relax and release stress
  • Laugh as much as possible
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Maintain a healthy BMI
  • Learn how to forgive
  • See your Doctor for all Wellness Checkups and Vaccinations
  • Avoid negative thoughts
  • Stop procrastinating and Do It!

Check Your Insurance Company's Website for Coverage

Most Insurance Companies will negotiate lower rates on your behalf so if you call a Hospital Directly chances are you will be quoted the highest price.  So before you comparison shop it is best to familiarize yourself with your health insurance policy schedule of benefits.  This information is usually provided to you when you enroll and should also be available online.  A schedule of benefits will show you the procedures that are covered and the amount that is covered.  It is always a good idea to call your benefits administrator to confirm coverage before having a procedure scheduled.

Compare Costs for Medical Procedures

The Health Care Price Transparency Act of 2006 requires hospitals to make certain inpatient and outpatient charges public and most State Departments of Health have information regarding how to find this information.  You will need to ask your Physician for the CPT  “Current Procedural Terminology” Code for the procedure you are scheduled to have.  With this code you can call other practices and compare prices for the same procedure.

The current trend is for employers to continue to shift healthcare costs to employees and if you have an unhealthy lifestyle you will be paying more for healthcare services.

How have you been managing healthcare costs for yourself or your loved ones?

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11 Responses to How to be Healthy and Lower Your Healthcare Costs

  1. Mike 03/18/2015 at 2:45 pm #

    “1 in 7 or 13.9% of the workforce is of normal weight without any chronic health condition and takes 4 sick days per year.” THAT IS PATHETIC!! Time to get out of our office chairs and start moving around. Oh, and lay off that vending machine in the cafeteria!!

  2. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving 11/08/2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Great post, Paul; I love all the little tips. Getting healthier is definitely one of my goals. 🙂 It’ll save us money and improve the quality (and hopefully) the length of my life.

  3. krantcents 11/03/2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Everyone needs a compelling reason to change their habits. Hopefully, nothing as severe as a heart attack. Enjoying good health is a benefit in itself, but few know what it is like unless they expereince it. Whether it is a doctor, loved one or insurance company telling you to get in shape. Do it it is worthwhile!

    • Paul 11/03/2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Unfortunately you are right KC. Some people wait until poor health provides the motivation to take care of our bodies. I want to be around to enjoy my grandchildren so I take pretty good care of myself.

  4. World of Finance 11/02/2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Nice article FT. Recently, I have increased my exercise routine and it feels great 😛 I also eat a healthy diet and as a result, am in good health. It’s amazing how our lifestyle strongly effects our health. Unfortunately, people don’t realize this till it’s too late.

    • Paul 11/02/2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Don’t you love that feeling after a good workout? I need to do better with eating more fruits and vegetables though.

  5. PKamp3 11/02/2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Definitely quit smoking and lose weight – it’s a trend for companies to actually charge more to the overweight, the smokers, and especially the overweight smokers.

    “Exercise for 30 Minutes per Day” – but definitely don’t exercise for 15 hours in a single day per month. That would probably increase your heart attack risk, haha.

    • Paul 11/02/2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I used to smoke but quit when my son was born. I didn’t smoke very much so it was not difficult for me to quit. To this day smoke really bothers me.


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