Read these 10 Refining Your Health Through Investments Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Health Management tips and hundreds of other topics.
This handbook is an overview for considering better personal health management by considering the investments—in time, attention, and resources—that you spend on your health. The construction of the book is a platform of value-based decision-making: understanding the information (data), including the assessment of your current health and potential decision-points for improvement. Using the same kind of tools that you use to track your checkbook or your savings account, you can re-define your methods for increasing your most important asset, your health. By practicing some short-term actions that result in personal health gains, and tracking the improvement in your well-being, you will learn to evaluate new ideas and build them into your health-wealth plan. Every choice you make about eating, moving, controlling stress, getting regular checkups, following your physician's advice—all of this contributes to the debits and credits in your health account, and these debits and credits are “paid for” in your wealth account.
The road to better health performance, to an enhanced asset line, to a more robust health-wealth portfolio, will be reinforced with unique add-in tools that make it personal for you:
You can change your vocabulary to investment-based words, and you can reframe your personal health strategy as an investment in lifelong, right-now financial health. Using new words to define a new investment strategy will lead you to improve your health decisions for investments in your health-wealth portfolio. There are no wrong decisions; but every decision you make has a consequence. If you use the CEO mindset, owning the decisions, being accountable to the shareholders (you and your significant others) and evaluating the returns on your investments, you will be able to make better decisions for a healthier, financially sound future.
The health care industry has the technology and research for improvements in health, but there exists a great gap between what is possible and how it affects the individual. That gap exists in part because of the disconnect between personal health accountability and the access to health services. Making health decisions based upon the value of the investment, in immediate and long-term rewards, in current and future health care consequences and costs, can result in better personal and financial performance. “Health” is a not a one-size-fits-all solution. It means different things to different people. By considering the short-term and long-term value of health investments—“does this action mean I won't have to go to the hospital for a procedure,” or, “will eating this food every day mean my diabetes will get worse and I could lose my eyesight in 10 years”—it becomes obvious that value-based decisions can redefine the life you want to live far into the future. Decisions need to be based on an investment strategy that says, “I have a vision of a healthy and well-financed future for myself. Therefore, I need to make choices now and later that will not drain my health or my wealth.”
Did you ever ask a runner why he or she runs? There may be some vanity involved, but it's hard work, and it's hard to get up the next day and do it again. Yet, as one client confided: “My doctor says if I'm not moving I'm dying.” Most runners, most folks who invest in their health, will tell you they do it as a long-term strategy for feeling better, performing better, having more energy for other life events, and pushing disease into the future.
You are not alone in considering your health as a fundamental to a wealthier life. By investing in your current and future health, you are “banking” that you are creating a better return on your investment. Of course, no one can see into the future. But you can “hedge your bets,” “play the odds,” or, in healthcare terms, “model the consequences” of your actions. When you create the financial model of investing now or investing later, you will discover that the odds are with you right now; it gets more expensive in the future to treat the condition or poor health behavior that you ignored today.
Regardless of whether you buy into the terminology and framework, the process of personally managing your health, through health improvement and condition management actions, works and it's well-substantiated. Taking charge of our health gives us a better quality of life, more money in our pockets, and more security for our well-being. Creating a method for making decisions based on value—measuring the return on investment against the consequences—can get you to your goal and maintain your financial well-being— the wisest platform for health management. There may be higher costs in some instances, but these are investments in the personal asset of your health. The better you manage this important asset, the higher your return on the investment, and the richer your portfolio.
There is documented evidence that the more risks you incur, the more costs you will incur. Your employer and your insurance company know this; so does your physician and your pharmacist. That's why they want to help you manage your health more efficiently. Reducing your current and future risks will result in better overall health and less withdrawals from your health-wealth portfolio. Just like putting money in your savings account results in more spendable cash for the future.
If you have an existing condition, particularly one that will be with you for a long time (chronic condition, such as diabetes/asthma/hypertension/cancer), then it's even more important to become the CEO of your health. Chronic conditions that are well-managed cost less and they have less impact on the overall quality of life. As an example, if you have diabetes, consider the implications of not being proactive, not managing your disease well. You can suffer nerve damage, loss of eyesight, loss of fingers/toes/limbs. If you have asthma, just how many trips to the emergency room are necessary before you realize that it's cheaper to use the inhaler? And cancer—there are early detections that can identify the disease before it spreads; there are new treatments that can modify the course of the disease. Keeping chronic disease in check is much more cost-efficient than treating the spread of disease or the disability that results from not managing it.
Life is so uncertain; planning is useless. …And any one of us could be struck by a moving car tomorrow. In truth, you simply can't rely on employer insurance, paid days off, community clinics or emergency rooms to support your health. You can't assume that the government will support your health, or that retirement benefits will be maintained. You must make the move now to take the right steps, or you may pay for your lack of health management in a poorer quality of life for years to come. While some things in life are out of your control, there are many life situations you can manage and control. It's about believing in your future and a better quality of life. It's about understanding that you hold the power for better outcomes and better financial stability.
It's cheaper to make small investments, take better actions, today than it will be in the future. When health is not managed well, when you ignore the risks and early interventions that give a better outcome, the risks rarely go away. They get bigger, and they cost more to fix in the future. The most powerful actions today—eating better, moving more, and being compliant with your medical treatments—will result in fewer expenses now and in the future. It's never too late to change your actions to improve your health.
The internet is invaluable for getting health information. Your insurance company may have a website with information, and your employer may also have one. If you don't know how to “surf” the web, ask a child or grandchild who does. Your medical advisors can suggest good sites.
You can also develop personal health resources. Your doctor and pharmacist have a wealth of information to help you weigh the options for different treatments. They can direct you to community resources that can support the decisions that you make. They can enlist the efforts of their staff, such as nurses and receptionists, to provide you with written information that you need. Finally, you can always use the phone—call the American Heart Association and ask for information, or call a neighbor whose opinion you respect and get some input.
Most families have a “designated doctor.” That's the person with the most interest and comfort level in the health area. However, the designated doctor may not always be present to make health decisions. Nor does he or she know how you are feeling, and if it's good enough for you. You are the ultimate manager of your health. It's your body. Learn what makes you feel well, what risks you have, what behaviors you can change. Create a vision of how healthy you would like to be. Assume the responsibility, then ask that person to confirm the plan. But don't turn the entire plan over to your “designated doctor.” He or she has the same personal responsibilities that you do—managing his or her own personal health investments. Remember that you are your personal responsibility, and you have to be accountable for your actions—and non-actions.
“I don't have time, ” –and its corollary, “I don't have time to do it right”—is not a valid response. You make time to eat, you make time to bathe; you can make time to manage your health. Another way to look at “I don't have time” is: “If you don't have time to do it right, how will you find time to do it over?” You may want to make hasty decisions for the little things, but a health decision done wrong may have consequences that last a lifetime, including costs that are much higher than you planned. Think of the time spent thinking about and improving your decisions as an investment in your future, because truly this IS an investment in your future. How long do you want the machine (think “car”) to keep running, reliably starting every time you need it? Isn't keeping the oil changed in your car cheaper than replacing the transmission? It's also cheaper to take care of the machine that is your body, with planned servicing and frequent “fill ups” of health behaviors.
A doctor is only one piece of the partnership; the one with the medical expertise. You are the expert in what you've tried before and how your body responds to things. You have the right and the responsibility to ask the questions and provide the feedback. Remember, you are the biggest stockholder and have the most to gain or lose with any treatment decision. You want a good result, you don't want a relapse or worsening of the condition, and you don't want to spend unnecessary dollars. To achieve that, you must communicate openly and honestly, making sure your doctor uses words you understand, about your expectations and how he or she can help you achieve them.
You know about having list when you visit the doctor. But, do you take a pen or pencil in with you, too? After all, the doctor is going make the recommendations. Just like a financial analyst, you are using the doctor as a medical analyst. You, as the primary personal health decision-maker, must get all the facts, consider any consequences, and then act on your decisions. Also, you must report any unforeseen side effects, new developments, and so forth. That's the same as watching the stock prices in your 401K: you want to increase your wealth, so you check the progress and adjust the allocations. Same thing for your medical analyst: check the progress and make the adjustments together.
We all grow comfortable with our routines and how we handle certain issues. This book asks you to re-evaluate some of those routines and how they influence your current conditions and risks. Then, and only then, can you take a closer look at serving your long-term health.
Health insurance gives you financial basis for your health investment, but it doesn't guarantee health. You have the responsibility to ask the questions and seek the information that makes sense in YOUR value-system. Does your doctor recommend a treatment that is not covered? Ask more questions; sometimes a covered expense is not the best option for your health. It's a menu, not the magic pill. And how, when, and with whom you use your insurance has an influence on your wealth, too. After all, YOU are the person who is responsible for co-pays, treatment follow-through, and more. You get to make the decisions on how much time, money, and effort you want to spend to manage your health condition. AND, these choices result in how much time, money and effort you will have to spend later, when it could be more expensive because of poor choices now.