In my post on The Affordable Care Act and Retirement, I discussed our plan to switch from our current policy through our former employer to a policy on the health care exchange. Insurance premiums are obviously a major part of health care costs. If you have employer provided health insurance, you really don’t have a choice about your coverage. Our employer used to offer a choice of a high deductible and a low deductible plan. The high deductible plan had lower premium, which more than made up for the higher deductible, in a worst case scenario.
The other cost of health care, besides premiums, are your out of pocket expenses. I have brought my health care costs down by using generic or over the counter drugs. I used to have Niaspan prescribed, but I switched to over the counter niacin for a significant savings. I also switched from Nexium to a generic version of Prilosec, which works fine for me. After my heart surgery, going on a modified Mediterranean diet decreased my triglyceride level, and I was able to go off Gemfibrozil. I take generic versions of a blood thinner, an ace inhibitor, a beta blocker, and an anti-cholesterol medication. I take over the counter allergy medication with decongestant, which is prescribed by my doctor, so it is covered by my insurance. I also buy fish oil and a multi-vitamin over the counter. I switched from an expensive fish oil that my chiropractor’s office was pushing to a much cheaper version that meets American Heart Association standards.
The health plan we are switching to next year has coverage that is lower than our current coverage. I plan to quit going to my chiropractor, unless I have a specific problem. I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing back exercises twice a day to decrease the chance of needing to see my chiropractor.
My blood work from my last physical indicated that my calcium and HDL levels were a little low and that my triglyceride and blood sugar levels were a little high. I changed my diet to include two glasses of milk a day, which should bring my calcium level up. I had just been doing fat free cheese. I can bring up my HDL level by exercising more. I just joined a gym again again(I went there this morning) and am trying to establish the habit of going daily. Exercise would also help reduce my triglyceride levels. Lowering my weight would help reduce my blood sugar level.
My wife and I pay $53 a month for a gym membership. Our current insurance will give us each a $20 rebate, if we go to the gym at least eight times a month. It is certainly cost beneficial for us with the rebate. It is probably cost beneficial for us, even without the rebate.
Like most Americans, my health risks can be brought down by diet and exercise. I’ll discuss Weight Watchers in my next post.