Enjoy this post today on healthcare by my good friend Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.
Brian talked recently about the 5 lessons he learned from his recent surgery. Brian is an active guy, and I can only image how much fun he had being sidelined a bit by his torn meniscus and the subsequent surgery. Not to mention the money it costs these days for anything from a simple doctor appointment, a necessary prescription drug or, as in Brian’s case, a surgery.
Not all medical expenses are avoidable: there are many diseases and conditions for which medical treatment (so far, anyway) is the only known help. However, there are many health conditions that are in our control, and many ways for people to cut down on their share of the 3+ trillion dollars that Americans spend on healthcare each year.
4 Ways to Cut Down on Healthcare Costs
Here are some of the things our family does to cut down on annual healthcare costs.
#1: Eat Well
I know most people don’t like to hear it, but a diet that consists of a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and minimally processed foods can do wonders for a person’s health.
Over the past 3 years, due to our son’s intolerance to all things corn and dairy-related, we’ve been researching and implementing a healthier, whole foods diet in our home. We eat a minimal amount of processed foods (less than 20% of our total diet), cook from scratch, and plan meals using lots of vegetables, organic brown rice, organic brown flour, and stay largely away from white flour and white sugar. We also avoid soda unless it’s a holiday or party, and drink mostly fresh, clean water.
The result: our son’s corn and dairy intolerance has disappeared (we learned that it was also the chemicals and the added hormones/antibiotics in the corn products and dairy products that were causing his problems and not the just corn and dairy themselves) and we are now a much healthier family. Colds and flus rarely hit us – once a year at the very most – and we only need the doctor now for annual checkups.
Growing our own veggies has been paramount in keeping costs down as we eat a high vegetable diet as well. Shopping the sales and planning our dinner menus around what’s on sale at the grocery store helps our cleaner diet be more affordable too, as does no longer buying expensive processed foods and sodas.
#2: Practice Good Hygiene
Mom’s words of wisdom were right, it turns out. Sneeze and cough into your sleeve, and wash your hands plenty – especially during cold and flu season. We always wipe down our carts with the wipes the big box stores provide, and wash our hands at home after we’ve been out. This is another reason I believe colds and flus have been virtually non-existent in our home for the last three years.
#3: Exercise Regularly
Brian knows well the benefits of regular exercise. Keeping the body strong through regular exercise gives your immune system a boost and your mood a boost through the releasing of endorphins.
I’m personally a fan of low-impact aerobics such as walking, swimming, low-impact hiking and biking. For strength exercises I do stretching and Pilates. These types of exercises take a minimal amount of time and produce decent results.
#4: Know Your Stuff
Don’t depend on the doctor to be your only source of medical knowledge. I wouldn’t recommend taking all aspects of your healthcare into your own hands, but by educating yourself on basic medical conditions via respected resources, you can begin to learn the difference between a more serious health issue that needs medical attention and a minor health issue that can be treated at home.
Questioning tests and treatments that are recommended by the doctor’s office can be a wise move as well. When our son was being tested for food allergies and intolerances, the doctor suggested a number of tests that had a “high unlikelihood” of coming out positive, but that she wanted to test for, “just in case”. By asking about what the symptoms were for those medical conditions, and further researching why she wanted to perform those specific tests, we realized that 4 of them weren’t necessary because he had none of the symptoms that would indicate those maladies. I declined the tests (with the doctor’s okay) and saved us $800 in the process.
By taking good care of your body, practicing good personal hygiene and by understanding how the human body works, one can indeed save money on healthcare.
Questions: What practical steps are you taking to save money on healthcare? Do you notice a difference in your health when you eat right and exercise? Have you ever turned down an optional medical procedure in order to save money?
About the Author: Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.