Your Own Health-Care Plan

Setting some simple priorities for the way you live your own life helps you keep straight what’s truly important – and most healthy.

Remember the good old days of health care? Long, long ago, maybe eight or nine years? When you got sick and mostly worried about just the illness? You went to the doctor or hospital, flashed your insurance card representing a policy that your employer heavily subsidized, paid practically a pocket-change deductible and started down the road to recovery.

Good times, and long gone.

Medical costs continue to rise, albeit more slowly lately. Insurance rates ride along in a system that historically chains coverage to employment and many employers just hike employee contributions and deductibles.

Coffee machine gossip once centered on soaring home values. Now you grouse about the out-of-pocket on your kid’s broken arm or the ugly dollar signs in the memo about changes to the company coverage. 

Soon to come: the millions of baby boomers who drank, smoked and overate their way through the past 50 years. My doctor says he fears that the heavy cost of caring for boomers into their 80s and 90s stands to simply collapse our health-care system.

How to minimize fracturing of your bank account and retirement in this crisis? Ben Franklin said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Commit to a goal now, make a plan to achieve it and budget to succeed.

Not a financial goal but a health and fitness objective.

Every minute you work to resolve your current health problems, pursue fitness goals or learn to live a healthier life pays off in significantly reduced medical costs down the road. Get with your doctor or other health professional and decide what you need to address. Endless resources exist to help you make a plan to achieve those goals: books, websites, DVDs, personal trainers, nutritionists and more.

Budget both money and time to your effort. You don’t need to start with joining some pricy gym or hiring a personal trainer. Walking, jogging, biking and hiking are just a few effective, accessible and inexpensive ways to shape up.

Making time for them regularly might prove difficult at first, but they happen if you commit. Ditto with other health changes, some especially hard. When you invest in eating better or living without cigarettes, the dividends start almost immediately and last a lifetime – often a much longer, more enjoyable lifetime.

Enjoyable indeed if you spend some of it chatting around the coffee machine about your journey to a healthier life.

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Wes Moss, CFP, is the chief investment strategist for Capital Investment Advisors and a partner at Wela Strategies, both in Atlanta. He hosts “Money Matters,” a live financial advice show on Atlanta’s 95.5 FM and AM 750 News/Talk WSB Radio. His two books are Make More, Worry Less and Starting From Scratch. He has appeared frequently on CNBC, Fox Business Network and on Atlanta-area television. He also writes weekly about personal finance in the “Bargain Hunter Section” for AJC.com, the site of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Connect with Wes on Twitter at @WesMossWSB and on Facebook at Wes Moss Money Matters

This article appeared originally, in different form, on AJC.com.

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