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The traditional suppliers of health care are changing how they look at health, too. Employers, physicians, insurance companies, and others in the healthcare arena are experiencing cost increases that, in some cases, overtake their profit lines. Therefore, while they value their employees, they must also value their shareholders and minimize the costs of poor health. They are searching, just as you are, for ways to increase their return on health investments—the monies they put into health insurance benefits, absenteeism and disability coverage, and accidents. They are checking out their “health investments,” and they are shifting some of the responsibility to you, the ultimate decision maker for your health. They are putting systems into place that will protect your health, such as healthier food in the company cafeteria, and flu shots, and coverage for prevention activities such as annual physicals. They are also creating incentives for you to manage your health better, such as Health Savings Accounts and flex-cash for stop-smoking classes. They see these as investments in the health of their companies, and you are integral to that health.
You, too, must check out the investments you are making in your health. Medical science will continue to improve our length of life, but it won't always be covered by your employer. You must take more of the responsibility in determining where you want your health dollars to go—into a savings account for those unexpected incidents? Into prevention and well-family care that will catch early risks and give you a chanced to intervene before they get out of hand? Into the medicines that manage your asthma or diabetes so that you don't require inpatient—expensive—services for acute flare-ups? That's the power of investing: managing the small bumps and doing the best you can at everyday health improvement actions.