Almost everyone will face significant healthcare costs at some point during their lives, but there is much one can do to minimize the risks of being hit with overwhelming expenses and much one can do to be as prepared as possible even for a catastrophic scenario.
People form plans for marriage and family, education, careers, and a host of other things in life, so it only makes sense to have a well thought out “health defense plan” as well. Here are 4 key elements that should be a part of any such plan:
1. Equip yourself with the best health insurance for your situation
There are numerous variables to consider when selecting a health insurance policy that’s right for you. You need to balance premiums and deductibles/copays so your policy is both affordable and worthwhile. You also need to weigh the merit of including riders like dental, vision, or maternity care or of starting a tax-deferred Health Savings Account (HSA) to help pay for medical expenses.
But everyone’s needs (and income) are different, and it can take some expert guidance and some real research time to find and choose the right policy.
2. Eat healthy as a lifestyle, not just when on a diet
It’s truly challenging to eat healthy in our fast-paced, fast-food, grab-and-go society, where health and wellness so often take a back seat. But you greatly decrease your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other chronic disease if you eat right over the long term.
Discipline yourself to buy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and it’s amazing how quick you will be to eat them rather than let your hard-earned money go to waste in the fridge! Avoid high-sugar, high-carb, empty calorie foods or foods packed with artificial ingredients and loaded down with preservatives. It will have a major impact on your health over the years, and you’ll feel better almost immediately.
3. Exercise and stay active
The second major problem with modern Western society that leads to health problems is “the sedentary lifestyle” so many lead. Our wealth of modern technology that makes life’s tasks easier and our ability to use tools like the internet, radio, and TV to communicate and learn can be a good thing, but it can also backfire.
People who lived 100 years ago didn’t have to worry about exercise programs because life was full of strenuous activities. Today, we need to plan times to run, stretch, do aerobics, and the like. And you should purposefully use the stairs, walk short distances to pick up something from the store instead of drive, park at the far end of the parking lot, and do other “small things” to work extra physical activity into our daily routines.
4. Develop good sleep patterns
A final major way you can stay healthy and avoid having to use your health insurance (which you want to always have “just in case”) is to follow good sleep habits. That may seem nearly impossible to some with busy schedules and late-night shifts, but it’s for your own good and you can’t ignore it.
Develop regular sleep times, sleep in a quiet, dark, comfortable room (and always in the same bed), and always allow for 7 or more hours of sleep at a time. Also avoid large meals just before bedtime, turn off all electronics 30 minutes or more before retiring, avoid caffeine and alcohol past early afternoon. Take a short “cat nap” midday if you tend to fall asleep too early, but avoid napping and do more exercise if you tend to always fall asleep too late.