by Susan Paige
There is one expense that you can almost never skimp on, and that’s healthcare. When stuff hurts, stuff hurts, and you need to fix it. Unfortunately, healthcare is expensive for many of us. Yes, you should get to know all the details and fine print of your health insurance plan, but not everyone has health insurance, and not everyone has good health insurance.
Insurance aside, here are some nifty little ways you can chop a few dollars off here and there to save on healthcare.
- Invest in healthy habits.
One easy way to avoid unnecessary health-care expenses is to make sure your body’s overall health is given the proper care it needs. You don’t need a degree in human biology to learn how to stay healthy. It’s quite simple: eat vegetables, move around, get enough rest, and de-stress.
Of course, these things are easier said than done, but just remember that getting and staying healthy is within your control. Don’t expect it to be an overnight solution; many healthy habits take months, if not years, to develop, but this is a long-term investment that will definitely pay off.
Plus, you’ll feel (and look) better too.
- Save on prescription costs by buying generic medication and buying it online.
According to the FDA, there is no difference between brand-name and generic medication — except perhaps their price. By law, they have to work the same in terms of dosage, safety, strength, quality, and route of administration.
You might also want to consider buying your medication online from international and Canadian pharmacies. A resource like Rx Connected (a Canadian pharmacy referral service) can connect you to affordable medicine. Countries outside the United States may have stricter drug price regulation laws, allowing lower drug prices.
- Build your own home gym.
No, I don’t mean getting out your hammer and utility belt (though you’re more than welcome to if DIY-ing is your forte). All I mean is that you don’t need an expensive gym membership to stay fit.
Simply use one of many free fitness training resources on the internet like Fitness Blender or Jump Rope Dudes. If you want to challenge yourself, you can buy a few simple pieces of equipment, such as a mat, free weights, and jump rope. If you need more space, go outside! Jog around the neighborhood, and do pull-ups on a playground monkey bar set.
- Get vaccinated.
Vaccination is an excellent preventive method that keeps you from getting infected and sick. If you were vaccinated as a kid, but it’s been a while, talk to your doctor about getting supplemental booster shots. If you don’t know what vaccinations you’ve received, also talk to your doctor. Getting vaccinated twice usually isn’t dangerous.
Vaccinations may have an up-front cost, but they’re worth it. Vaccinating against a disease now may save you hefty hospital fees. Besides, with vaccinations, you can beef up your immune system without the pain of getting sick and protect the humans around you (such as immunocompromised individuals). That’s a win-win!
- Stock up on preventive supplies.
Similar to getting vaccinated, you should also load up your cabinet with preventive supplies like sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and bug spray. Yes, these items have an up-front cost, but the cost of dealing with an illness down the road is even greater. Keeping a convenient little bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack can help you kill germs anywhere, sunscreen is an important part of preventing skin cancer, and bug spray can help you prevent bug-borne illnesses like Lyme disease.
- Build a healthy hygiene habit.
Good hygiene goes a long way. An extra 10 seconds of handwashing can mean one less day where you have to skip work (and all the potential income that goes with it).
The CDC recommends scrubbing your hands for the same amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. If soap and clean running water isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60% or more alcohol. However, do note that hand sanitizers can’t remove every type of germ, and they are not as effective as using soap and water, especially if the dirt and grease on your hand is visible.
- Figure out what you really need.
There seems to be a diet, superfood, and health product every week. Ask yourself if you really need whatever is trending. Keep in mind that many newer products haven’t received rigorous scientific analyses. For example:
- Most people do not need vitamins and supplements.Ask your doctor if you do. Be skeptical of anyone who tries to sell you expensive supplements with lofty claims. Note that the FDA does not require dietary supplements to prove most of their claims; they are not regulated in the same way as conventional drugs.
- Similarly, don’t jump at every new superfood. Of course, if you really love kale salads, indulge in all the kale salad you please, but many so-called superfoods are expensive, especially if they’re plastered with labels like organic, GMO-free, free-range, etc. What’s more, the term superfood was actually begun by a fruit company, not medical scientists.
- While we’re on this topic, just because something is organic or GMO-free doesn’t mean it’s better. Organic food might even expose you to biological contaminants while the likelihood of non-organic foods increasing cancer risk is minimal.
The truth is health is a lucrative business opportunity. There will be times when you will have to let some money go in order to get the treatment you need. But if you are a generally healthy individual, think twice before investing in an expensive product. Otherwise, keep yourself educated with the latest scientific health findings, do extensive research before committing to a new insurance plan, and live a healthy lifestyle. Both your body and your wallet will thank you.