In Our Forties: Eight Essentials for Health Care Savings

agreementYou’re in your forties. Your health isn’t what it used to be. What do you do – especially now that the Affordable Care Act is starting to take effect? You have to have health insurance and, while you’re guaranteed coverage, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no costs. Quite the contrary, health care costs might increase for you since you have to pay premiums on top of any co-insurance for the policy. Here’s how to keep yourself healthy and manage the health care costs you do incur.

Get An HSA Plan, If Possible

While the Affordable Care Act, AKA “Obamacare,” doesn’t do away with HSAs, it does place limits on plans that will qualify for them. Do yourself a favor and, if you don’t have an HSA now, try to get one. Some plans may not be grandfathered if you haven’t had the insurance since 2010, but it’s worth a shot. Companies like HSAForAmerica.com can help steer you in the right direction – HSAs generally save you several thousand dollars a year on health insurance and health care costs. 

Shop Around For Prescriptions and Tests 

It’s not enough to just take your doctor’s word for it when it comes to testing and pricing. Most doctors don’t know what it costs to get tests done. They just use their preferred lab. Shop around. Some insurers even offer discounts for using a particular lab.

consulting-doctorTell Your Doctor About Your Financial Concerns

If you’re having financial troubles, don’t be afraid to tell your doctor about them. Financial troubles are becoming more common – your doctor should be able to work with you to lower the cost of care without sacrificing the quality you’re getting.

Choose The Best Health Insurance For Your Situation

Not everyone needs a play that covers everything under the sun. In fact, most people only need catastrophic care. Even if you have existing health problems, odds are that you could do better by building up a savings on your own for routine doctor visits, work out a special “cash only” fee with your doctor, or use an HSA to help keep costs low.

Think About Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance is something most people just don’t want to think about. Yet, roughly half of everyone alive today will need some type of long-term care at some point in their lives. This trend will continue unless or until peoples’ attitudes about health and fitness change radically. Even still, it’s difficult to predict whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or any other cognitive disorder. Also, accidents happen. You might become temporarily, or permanently disabled in your old age and need skilled nursing care.

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Make The Most Of Wellness Programs

Wellness programs at work are there to help you stay healthy and remain active. Use them.

Learn What To Expect

Obamacare changes a lot of the old rules about health insurance and health care. If you never qualified for health insurance before, you will under the ACA. There are no denials for pre-existing conditions, and the government is subsidizing the cost of the policy for those who meet income eligibility requirements.

Stay Healthy

This is much easier said than done, but it’s also the most important thing you can do to stay out of the doctor’s office and off expensive medications. What constitutes healthy? Low-fat? Low-carb? Low-calorie? Take a step back for a moment and think about the nature of human beings. If you don’t have a degree in anthropology, you can still get a good idea of how humans survived for so many years eating a very basic diet consisting of whole foods. There’s no shortage of good resources on the Internet about how to eat healthy.

Natural looking young manCarbs, fats, proteins – these are just micronutrients. They matter, but the ratio you eat them in aren’t as important as you might think, unless you have an existing health problem like diabetes.

Another way to stay healthy is to get in the gym and do some barbell training – powerlifting-style. You may not have any desire to strut around on stage in a bikini, but powerlifting isn’t just for professional athletes. It builds muscle, strengthens bone, and helps you build coordination – all of which become extremely important as you get older.

Finally, don’t be afraid to go outside and get some fresh air. Walking every day will do a lot to loosen up stiff joints and get your blood pumping. It doesn’t take much – just 20 to 30 minutes. If you start your mornings with a walk, you’ll be energized for the entire day.

Susan Thomson has worked in healthcare for several decades. She often blogs about basic concerns and questions patients have.