One of the single biggest expenses we all face (especially as we tend to get older) are the increasing costs of healthcare.
Trips to the doctor, deductibles, prescriptions, and (the worst) whether or not your insurance is going to cover it! It can all add up very quickly.
Fortunately one of the best ways to combat your healthcare costs is to simply “be” more healthy. And this is something that you can start doing right now that you can turn into a habit.
Being healthy not only does the obvious like decrease the number the number of times you have to go to the doctor each year, but it can also have a lot of other long-term benefits such as avoiding certain diseases and eating better food.
Here are 26 habits that will help you trim your healthcare expenses and improve your quality of life in the process!
1. Get a full night’s sleep every night
Getting a full 7-8 hours of sleep ever night really is the key to starting every day off on the right foot. Not only will you function better, but you’ll also have more energy each and every morning.
If you tend to over-sleep, keep in mind that this can be just as harmful. People who over-sleep have less energy and are generally less productive. Try to keep your sleep patterns to the optimal number.
2. Rotate your mattress
To help improve the quality of your sleep, be sure to rotate your mattress once every 6 months to a year. Just like rotating the tires on your car, this will help to keep the mattress evenly worn as well as help you to sleep more comfortably.
With most modern mattresses, flipping them is not necessary.
3. Skip replacing your mattress every 7 years
You know who made up that rule? People who want to sell you more mattresses. As long as you buy quality, a good one will actually last you 10 years or longer.
4. Skip a sugary breakfast
Sugar burns through your system rapidly and will leave you feeling less energetic within an hour. To have more consistent energy, eat more protein and fiber in the morning and throughout your day.
5. Prevent illness before it starts
Develop good habits like sanitizing your hands after each surface you touch. Also make stretching and exercise a priority.
6. Really compare your medical insurance options
Don’t just assume all plans are the same. Really look at the fine print and see which one covers the hings you really use. Try out a few hypothetical scenarios and try to estimate what kind of costs you could be saddled with.
7. Consider the higher deductible plan
Depending on how often you visit the doctor, it may work out cheaper.
8. Understand what’s covered and what isn’t
If something like (for example) chiropractic care or certain procedures aren’t covered, make sure you’re aware of this (and prepared to pay the cost) before you get treatment.
9. Understand who’s in your network and who isn’t
Don’t always assume that every doctor you visit is covered. The ones that are “out of network” could end up costing you a whole lot more! Do your research ahead of time by calling your insurance provider.
10. Sign up for an FSA
If your employer offers one, check to see if your employer offers a Flexible Savings Account. This is a great way to pay for medical expenses tax-free.
11. Or, sign up for an HSA
If your employer doesn’t offer FSA’s, check to see if you can participate in a Health Savings Plan. This is again another way to pay for medical expenses tax-free. You can read all the eligibility requirements here.
12. Go get a physical
Often early problems are caught in regular physicals before they become more costly problems.
13. Always ask for a price before any procedure or operation
Just because something is covered by insurance doesn’t mean that you might not end up having to pay your part of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Know the facts first.
14. Ask if certain procedures, tests, or office calls are really necessary
Sometimes doctors tend to go a little over-board with tests. Always find out if what they are recommended in truly called for.
15. Double check your bills and statements
Humans enter codes. Therefore, errors will happen. Make sure you’re getting billed for what really took place.
16. Negotiate your medical bills down
The prices of doctor appointments and procedures are not set in stone. If you’re stuck having to pay for them, call the office and see if there is some way they can lower them.
17. If the insurance company won’t cooperate, appeal the decision
If the insurance company is unwilling to help you with an expense, appeal the decision to a higher authority. Chances are they will hear your case and might be able to make an exception.
18. Keep your records on file
Hanging on your statements is a great way to show that you have proof of payment if you get billed twice by mistake.
19. See about splitting the cost
Braces, for example, can sometimes be split between two years of coverage.
20. Ask about financing
Many offices offer 0 percent interest plans to help make payments more manageable.
21. Shop around for medication
Prices do fluctuate from pharmacy to pharmacy.
22. If available, use generic drugs
Generics are the same exact thing as what they original manufacturer produces. They just do it for a whole lot cheaper.
23. Ask your doctor if they have any free samples of prescriptions
With the price of some medication in the hundreds or even thousands, one or two freebies could make all the difference!
24. Check the drug manufacturer’s website for discounts or coupons
Drug manufacturers are just like any other merchant – they want people to buy their stuff and their willing to mark it down (temporarily) to get you to bite. Again, with how ridiculous some prescription prices can be, it may be worth it to check around first.
25. If its not truly an emergency, avoid the emergency room
A trip to the ER is one of the most expensive ones you can make. If what you have isn’t as serious, go to the clinic instead. It will be much cheaper.
26. If offered, use a telephone or video appointment
Talking with a doctor or nurse over an online video chat is a relatively new service that is gaining in popularity. If your insurance provider offers this, consider it an option. The copay is usually less than the clinic.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr