by Jenny Smedra
Investing in your health is one of the most important forms of self-care. There are dozens of ways you can improve your well-being and make lifestyle choices that will keep your body and mind strong. Not only will these habits ensure better health overall, but they can also save a ton of money in long term health care costs. Preventative care is one way to ensure you have better health during your later years. Maintaining a well-balanced diet and regular exercise regimen are a great place to start.
However, if you are like me, you may struggle to make personal health or self-care high priorities. It becomes even more difficult when there are expensive, out-of-pocket expenses. That is why I am choosing to make my health a priority in the new year.
Average Health Care Costs
Unlike other developed countries, the American health care system heavily relies upon the private sector to insure its citizens. Most Americans receive health insurance through their employer or union sponsored group plans. Others purchase individual plans through private companies. While the Affordable Care Act created a government marketplace for everyone to have access to health insurance, it is far from complete.
In 2020, the average health insurance cost was $1,152 for a family and $456 per individual. Of course, prices vary based on which health plan you choose. Factors like the amount of coverage required, location, age, household income, and the size of your family impact how much you pay. After researching my options, I found myself in the same situation as thousands of other Americans. No matter how I allocated my budget, I could not afford health insurance. This means anytime I need medical treatment or medication, I must pay out of pocket.
Weighing Short Term Cost vs Long Term Investment
Living without health insurance leaves me vulnerable. I am also in a state of constant alert. I must always be aware of risk factors that negatively impact my health or could result in hefty medical bills. Therefore, I do everything in my power to stay fit and safe. In addition to a nutritious diet, I exercise and stretch regularly to prevent injuries. Furthermore, I have incorporated meditation and other outlets to maintain positive mental health as well. However, there comes a point when preventative care is not enough and you need professional health services. In my case, it happened after an accident left me with a broken pair of glasses.
I have had poor vision my entire life. As a child, my dad’s insurance plan covered these expenses. Once I started my career, my employee health plan took care of the costly exams and visual aids. Unfortunately, I had neither in my current predicament. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I began to weigh my options.
After returning to the optical center where I had purchased my original frames, I learned it would cost between $300 and $500 to replace my glasses. During the consultation, the assistant also suggested that I look into laser correction surgery. Although I had considered LASIK in the past, the prices had prevented me from having the procedure. Reeling from sticker shock, I took some time to make my pros and cons list to determine what to do next.
Investing in Your Health
With encouragement from loved ones, I set up a free consultation with a local clinic. I figured I had nothing to lose since they did not require cash up front. While financing was a primary concern, I also wanted to choose the best option for my health. I had visited with other clinics and discovered the average cost for laser correction surgery ranged between $3,500 and $5,000. Furthermore, I learned that most insurance providers also considered it an elective surgery. Even if I had carried insurance, it would still have been another out-of-pocket medical expense.
Faced with a major financial decision, I looked at the hard facts. I had terrible vision and doctors told me it would only get worse over time. As my eyesight deteriorates, the cost for glasses and contacts will increase. In a side by side comparison, buying new glasses saved me immediately. However, each pair was approximately 10% of the cost of the procedure. Theoretically, the surgery would pay for itself in time.
Torn between my frugality and new goals, I decided it was time to invest in my health. Although I am not thrilled about incurring another huge expense, I know laser correction surgery is the most practical option. Not only will it save money in long term health care costs, it will also greatly improve my quality of life. The relief from sore eyes, a pinched nose, and migraines may even outweigh all the financial advantages.
Here are some insurance brands you can invest on.
|Insurance Brands||Best for
|Lively||Lively helps people prepare for tomorrow by making smart decisions about finances and healthcare today.
|Haven life||An easy, affordable and dependable way to look after the people you love
|Bestow||Affordable, online term life insurance
Choosing to Improve Your Health
As I begin to feel those aches and pains when I wake up in the morning, I remember why I am investing in my health. However, it requires more effort and discipline to maintain a strong mind and body. I know that taking a preventative approach to health care will save me both money and pain as I get older.
I also remind myself daily that just as in business, you have to invest to reap the long term gains. The truth is that the procedure is expensive. But, it is also something that will enhance my overall quality of life. You cannot put a price on that.
Lastly, this entire experience has revealed another important point. If I am to truly invest in my health, I need to ensure that I have access to the medical attention I need. While preventative care promotes good health, I should not be afraid to see the doctor. Waiting until an illness becomes serious is counterproductive to my goals. The next step towards investing in my health is to re-evaluate my budget and make room for health insurance.