Budget Health Ideas: Money Saving Tips for Overall Health and HealthCare Costs
When most of us think about health on a budget, we think of eating nutritious organic food cheaply. But eating organic food is not the only factor to achieve our long term health goals. Regular exercise and careful planning of medical expenses are also important if we want to save money and stay healthy in the long run. So we have compiled five tips that will help you save money and be healthy in the long run:
1. Health Savings Account
If you are young and your employer provides an option for health savings account, this is a good way to save money for healthcare costs. If you are single, you can contribute up to $3,100 in 2012. If you have a family, you can contribute up to $6,250 in 2012.
If your employer offers an HSA (Health Savings Account), you can deposit a regular amount from your paycheck before taxes. Most employers usually contribute 10%-20% of the annual contribution as well. If you do not spend the entire balance this year, it will roll over to the next year and so on. You can also invest the funds in the HSA to get a higher rate of return.
If you do not get very sick very often (other than a few doctor visits for physical exam or flu or minor sicknesses), it is easy to save up to about 90% of your contribution. On the other hand, if you use a traditional insurance plan, all your money will go to the insurance company even if you do not get sick.
2. Comparison Shopping for Doctors and Pharmacies
Generally, doctors do not list their rates in their website or insurance website. However, you can ask your friends, co-workers and relatives for recommendations of good doctors in your neighborhood. Some questions you can ask are: (i) Does the doctor prescribe unnecessary medical exams?, (ii) Is the doctor honest?, and (iii) What rate does he normally charge and what does my insurance cover?
It is also easy to pick up some red flags such as a doctor recommending an expensive medical exam in the medical center she owns. If you get such a recommendation, you can always go to another doctor and get a second opinion.
Some prescription medicines can be expensive. Depending on your insurance, it may be a good idea to do some comparison shopping. Generally, online pharmacies such as Express Scripts are very competitive and offer you prescription medicines at a cheaper price. So if you can wait for your prescription to arrive by mail, it will save you money in the long run.
3. Regular Exercise and Fitness
Exercise helps combat chronic diseases such as heart diseases, Alzheimer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Research has shown that moderate exercise helps strengthen your immune system so that you do not have to worry about getting sick easily. The improvement in blood circulation in the body is beneficial for the heart and the overall body.
Naturopathic doctors believe that muscle expansion and contraction from exercise helps the lymphatic system to detoxify the toxins in the body and make you more healthy.
There are several ways to save money and exercise. Walking in the park or around your neighborhood is free, and the health benefits can be seen with as little as 30 minutes of walk in the morning every day.
If regular exercise prevents you from visiting the doctor frequently and relying on several prescription drugs, the savings will be thousands of dollars in a lifetime.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet Consisting of Nutritious Food
Minimizing (or avoiding if possible) fast food, processed food and soda is a crucial step to achieve good health. The savings will add up quickly if you do not eat out or buy processed food or soda.
Soda can be replaced with water with lemon. Eating lots of whole grains, vegetables and fruits will provide the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients necessary to strengthen the immune system and reduce doctor visits.
If you research food habits from around the world, it is easy to pick up delicious balanced meals (examples: East Asian, South Asian or Mediterranean food).
5. Understand the Importance of Sleep
If you are a busy professional, student or someone who likes clubbing and partying all the time, you may have several reasons to scrimp on sleep. However, sleep is essential for good health and fewer doctor visits. You may think that you are being more productive by working all night, but you will also lose concentration and be less productive during the day.
During sleep, the body heals and prepares it for the next day. Sleep helps improve your memory, prevent weight gain, improve your mood during the daytime, strengthen the immune system and help your cardiovascular system. It does not cost any money to have a good night’s sleep, and it will also prevent health expenses in the long run.
The ideas presented in this articles can be implemented without spending a lot of money. Exercise and sleep do not have to cost any money, while it is possible to eat a balanced diet without spending more than you spend already. Health savings account will help you save for unexpected medical bills in a tax-advantaged way.