The rising cost of health care has hit us all hard. By 2021, our expenses will reach $4.8 trillion; compared to $75 billion in 1970 and $2.76 trillion in 2010. The U.S. economy accounts for nearly 20% of health care.

What does that entail for you as an individual?

Families have significantly less money to spend as healthcare costs rise. But what options do we have? What other options do we have?

According to estimates from PricewaterhouseCoopers, waste accounts for up to half of all healthcare expenditures. There are two categories for that waste.

Excessive defensive medicine that orders tests that are redundant, inappropriate, or unnecessary are one area of waste. What can you do to stop this from happening? Consider alternatives that are less expensive for the same procedure and challenge the “why” of the procedure.

The other major source of waste that we can control is our own health behaviours. We can take the medicine as directed. We can quit smoking and drink moderate amounts of alcohol or none at all. To maintain a healthy weight, we can eat whole, healthy foods and exercise regularly. We can significantly lower our risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes and heart/lung issues.[the_ad id=”100″]

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The rising cost of health care is significantly exacerbated by the rising prevalence of chronic diseases. By 2023, chronic disease cases are expected to rise by 42%, according to researchers; Treatment costs rise by $4.2 trillion as a result. Since many chronic conditions are linked to unhealthy lifestyles, much of this cost could have been avoided.

If nothing else, poor health is a significant opportunity cost, so we need to become more responsible consumers of health care. Due to our poor health, we miss work and may miss promotions. Our poor health makes it harder to save money and costs us money we could have used elsewhere.

According to Olivia Mitchell in Money Magazine, a couple in their 50s and 60s with an average income will slow their savings by half as much as their healthy counterparts if they develop chronic health conditions. She adds that over an average lifespan (roughly 20 years), a healthy 65-year-old couple would need $295,000 to cover insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. For a couple with chronic illnesses, add $150,000 more.

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Utilizing employer-sponsored health insurance plans with high deductibles is yet another strategy for cutting down on healthcare waste. These encourage prudent health care use. They have the potential to boost medical expense savings when combined with Health Savings Accounts.

However, the attitude we adopt as a society may require the greatest shift.

Allison Ferguson’s excellent summary is: Too many people seek wealth at the expense of their health. Then, they should turn around and use their wealth to restore their health.

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