Sunday, October 31, 2010

Making Choices about Health

I'm lucky. I have good health insurance coverage through my job. I'm also lucky that my insurer is focused not just on illness, but on wellness. The organization's leaders remind us that while we cannot control medical costs, but we can control our own healthy choices.

I've had some major health issues lately, most recently gout. In addition to treating the gout (thanks, Doctor! The medicines are working well!), I make sure I rest and put my feet up each night, and I'm looking into diet changes that can help prevent further problems. Staying hydrated, minimizing certain foods and alcohol, gradually building strength in the weakened joint, are all choices under my control. With two disabled family members (my hearing loss and Amigo's blindness & autism), I have to choose our open enrollment options carefully. When I'm due for new hearing aids, I set aside money in a pre-tax medical sub account so that this major purchase doesn't hurt the family finances.

Aetna asked bloggers to take time to review this article and share five tips based on what we read. Here's my tip list:

Daisy's Tip #1: Determine your priorities. Prescriptions? Glasses/ contacts? Hearing aids? Face these priorities honestly, and then figure out the best plan for coverage.

Daisy's Tip #2: Ask questions. My favorite way to do this is to bring a list to medical appointments. Should I get a flu shot? If so, can I get it today? If the doctor says "surgery," ask for details. If the doctor says, "medication," ask how that medicine will react with others that you take regularly.

Daisy's Tip #3: Keep track of spending. Some of the costs not covered by insurance can be tax deductible. Keep receipts; the dollar amounts are important, as are the receipts that prove it. Tracking dollar amounts can also determine the amount you'll deposit in a medical sub-account. Remember my hearing aid example? Exactly like that.

Daisy's Tip #4: Plan ahead. This is my personal goal. I plan a physical every August, but I need to schedule dental cleanings, mammogram, and hearing aid maintenance -- all around my teaching schedule. Getting these on the calendar keeps me on top of my own basic health care.

Daisy's Tip #5: Take care. Really. Remember my opening - wellness opportunities? This is one area that's under my control. I can read the monthly wellness newsletter and take its advice. I can cook from scratch, controlling the ingredients and preservatives in my family's diet. I can exercise - when my ankle finally heals. I can get off the computer (as soon as I'm done with this post!) and spend time outside putting the garden to bed for the winter. Informal exercise with a shovel and a pile of dirt: it feels good.

These common sense tips and more are in this article from Aetna, but the tips are not limited to one insurance carrier. Taking control of health care is a personal challenge, and not an easy one. Making changes in coverage, sub-accounts, and wellness are long term investments in your health, your life, and your family's future.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Aetna blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Such good tips.

11/01/2010 10:16 AM  

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