Don’t Worry, Be Healthy: 10 Ways to Spend Less on Health Care in a Recession

The Institute for Good Medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical Society offers 10 ways to spend less on health care and stay (or get) healthy, including how to take good care of yourself to avoid additional costs and what healthy habits to start or continue.

  1. Take your medications as prescribed.
  2. Pay attention to early warning signs of health problems.
  3. Keep important medical appointments.
  4. Continue self-exams and annual screenings.
  5. Fill out our online health assessments.
  6. If you smoke, quit.
  7. Get moving.
  8. Eat healthy.
  9. Be more careful.
  10. Be resourceful.

Take your medications as prescribed. If you take medications for a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis or diabetes, it can be extremely dangerous and ultimately more costly to stop taking them or alter your dose without consulting your doctor. Ask your doctor if a generic drug would be appropriate or about prescription drug assistance. Visit RxAssist to see if you qualify for free and low cost medications.

Pay attention to early warning signs of health problems, particularly if it’s a symptom you haven’t experienced before. The longer you wait, the more costly it can be to treat.

Keep important medical appointments. If you have a chronic illness or if your child is due for required immunizations, please keep those appointments. Visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website for a listing of free or reduced cost clinics and federally qualified health centers.

Continue self-exams and annual screenings. Take advantage of free health screenings at local clinics, hospitals, or health fairs. Sign up for periodic screening reminders from the American Cancer Society. The Pennsylvania Department of Health offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Fill out the online health assessments offered by the Pennsylvania Medical Society. In just a few minutes, you can find out what steps to take to improve your overall health. The assessment’s personalized reports offer valuable suggestions for making positive lifestyle changes.

If you smoke, quit. Nearly one quarter (23 percent) of Pennsylvania’s adults smoke and about 20,000 die each year from the effects of smoking. Smokers pay approximately $16,000 to $18,000 more in health care costs over their lifetime than non-smokers.[1]  If you smoke, kicking the habit will save you big bucks; plus, it will dramatically improve your health. Contact your local American Cancer Society or American Lung Association chapter about smoking cessation classes.

Get moving. Regular exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Exercise also helps control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; reduces falls among older adults; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and medications So, whether you take a brisk walk, climb stairs, ride a bike or lift weights, just get moving. . If you haven’t exercised regularly in a long time, consult your doctor. Contact your local hospital about free or low cost exercise and weight-control classes.

Eat healthy. Try to make more meals at home. While fast-food value meals may seem like a good deal, they’re usually not a healthy choice. Instead, try cooking at home, including more fruits and vegetables in each meal.

Be more careful. The riskier your lifestyle, the more likely you are to have health problems. Take simple precautions in daily life: lift with your knees, buckle up, and don’t take unnecessary risks. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, make sure you know what you’re doing, or enlist the help of someone who does. Maybe now isn’t the best time to try putting on the new roof or re-wiring the house.

Be resourceful. If you have health care benefits, check to see if your plan includes lifestyle programs and preventive services. Take advantage of workplace wellness programs or check with your local hospital about free healthy lifestyle classes.

Also, whether you are uninsured, unemployed, or financially strapped, discuss your circumstances with your doctor. He or she should know if you are under additional stress and may be able to help by working out a financial arrangement, referring you to a local clinic, or providing samples.

Learn more about how to find free or low-cost health care.