Focus on fitness to limit lifetime health care expensesWith health care reform now a reality, some of us are relieved and some of us are worried about how it will change not only the medical landscape but our expenses. We often feel we're not in control when it comes to health care. But in reality, we are in control of how much we will spend on medical treatment in the future.
By: Dan Serra, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
With health care reform now a reality, some of us are relieved and some of us are worried about how it will change not only the medical landscape but our expenses. We often feel we're not in control when it comes to health care. But in reality, we are in control of how much we will spend on medical treatment in the future.
How? By how healthy we are now and in the future. Healthier people have lower medical expenses, so taking action to improve health is a step toward creating a better financial picture. The average total medical expenses in retirement are $250,000 per couple, according to the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit agency. Being in better than average health can lower that expense.
We should worry less about how much we are saving for retirement and more about how much we are maintaining good health and sticking to our workout plan. Staying in shape can also lower our health, life and long-term care insurance premiums. People with lower cholesterol and weight get the best rates. Some long-term care policies can have coverage delayed until later in life. So if we stay healthy, we can put off the coverage needs and save on premiums.
Illness is not totally avoidable, but we can plan for our retirement better knowing we are less likely to need high medical expenses if we lead a lifestyle filled with a proper diet and exercise. Not only should we consider a personal financial planner, but a personal trainer to keep us in shape. That could be the best health expense.
Health goes for the mind, too. Staying active mentally could reduce expenses by keeping us out of assisted living facilities. Being more mentally aware can allow us to live longer in our homes. Reading, taking classes and doing mind puzzles are all good ways to flex the brain.
Start a path to good health now by doing an inventory of your health issues and challenging yourself and your doctor to improve your health. Also consider a wellness doctor who can incorporate medical and lifestyle changes, including use of natural remedies to lessen the impact of drug interactions and even the dependence on drugs alone, another budget killer.
A commitment to health is a good step to not only improving your longevity and fitness, but your finances.