Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Save money on medical care, prescription drugs, and more

A new year means a new opportunity to do better. This year, in particular with a new president, there has been a lot of talk about healthcare reform. Even under the most optimistic situation , if legislation passed tomorrow , significant changes would still be years away. What can you do to make sure you are around and not bankrupt to see these reforms occur? Healthcare and medical expenses are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Do the following:
  • Get preventive screening tests done. Even if you feel well, find out what tests you should get done even if you feel well. You do get routine maintence for your car don't you? Why? So it doesn't break down. Well how about your body?
  • Pick a primary care doctor to be your healthcare advocate. Either an internist or family doctor will do. Research consistently shows patients who have a primary care doctor coordinate care and who is the first logical step to access the healthcare system not only are healthier but also spend less to get there.
  • If you need medications, always insist on generic medications. They aren't inferior. They are medications that previously were branded but no longer have patent protection. This means other pharmaceutical companies can manufacture the medications resulting in decrease prices. Recent generic medications over the past few years include allergy medications CLARITIN, ZYRTEC, cholesterol lowering medication ZOCOR, and heartburn medication - "the purple pill" PRILOSEC. Notice how before they went generic, companies plastered the airwaves and print with advertising. Now that they are generic, no one seems as enthusiastic, yet the medications work just as well for a lot less.
  • Consider getting medications at Wal-mart or Target. At $4 copays for many generic medications and $10 copays for a 3 month supply, these are often cheaper than the plans offered by insurance companies.
  • Eat less. With the economic crisis, people are more careful with their money. With 2/3 Americans already overweight or obese, changing your diet by eating less not only might save money, but also help you get healthier. Fewer calories in means less likely to add weight. It takes 3500 calories to equal 1 pound.
  • Invest in walking shoes or other cheap forms of exercise. Forget the gym, unless you already do it regularly. Go for a regular walk. Realize that a 30 minute walk only burns about 200 calories, which means to lose weight, not only do you need to move more but also eat less.
  • Quit smoking. Drink in moderation (if you want to).

With all of these tips, not only will you improve your physical health, you might also help for financial health. By being healthier, you might be around long enough to see true healthcare reform and not be bankrupt in the process.

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