Your Personal Health Plan

by Joanne Coley

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How can you put a lid on skyrocketing healthcare costs? Simply put, don't get sick. If you are sick, get well. If you are well, stay well. While the feds continue to politic about affordable healthcare, you as a consumer can legislate your own personal healthcare reform for you and your family. Here are three realistic ways to cut costs:

  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Incorporate or maintain an exercise regimen. An exercise regimen that includes cardio activity and strength training that helps control weight, tone muscles and protect bones. Creating a healthy and balanced diet with at least eight glasses of water daily can improve you health.

    Although the business of everyday life is full of stressful times, it cannot be overstated the importance of controlling stress. Start by not skimping on sleep and relaxation. Proper rest and making time for relaxation can help with those stressful times both emotionally and physically. Manage your time and priorities wisely. Learn to say no or ask for help. No one can do it all.

    Relieve muscle tension by stretching before and after exercise as well as taking a work break. Taking work breaks can payoff by reducing fatigue and increasing productivity.
  • Know what you are entitled to in your health insurance coverage. Keep your health insurance benefit book handy. Research and know your plan and its options. Participate in any wellness programs through your health insurance such as smoking cessation, fitness club membership reimbursement, and weight management programs. Compare costs for mail-order pharmacy plans.

    Equally important is familiarizing yourself with your plan's appeal procedures before they are needed. When in doubt, phone your insurance company's customer service department for answers.
  • Take advantage of tax breaks. Consider a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA), and Medical Savings Accounts (MSA). Health savings accounts allow consumers to pay for eligible out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical insurance with pretax dollars deducted from your paycheck. Out-of pocket expenses may include health insurance co-pays, prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as dental and eye care expenses.

Making small lifestyle changes and taking advantage of all existing health insurance benefits can lead to healthy results.

Joanne Coley is a writer, public relations and marketing consultant serving clients in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. She has been searching and finding realistic ways to cut healthcare costs after a three-year, double-digit premium increase.

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