Reduce Health Care Cost

There’s no doubt that skyrocketing health care costs are crippling America’s businesses. With increases of 10-20 percent yearly, such rates simply cannot be sustained over the long term. Even if the Congressional health care reform passes, it will be several years before it is fully implemented, and even then the repercussions for business owners and its effect on total health care costs are still unclear.

Starting an employee weight loss program saves money by reducing your overall health care cost and monthly premiums: here are some of the other benefits.

–Reduced absenteeism: Lighter employers are healthier employees and will simply not get sick as often.

–Increased productivity: When employees feel better and are not absent as often, overall productivity naturally goes up!

–Employees spend less on prescription drugs: Not only do employees pay less out of pocket costs, so does the company. When people are lighter, they simply don’t need to visit the drugstore as much.

–Better overall office mood: When employees lose weight, they feel more self-confident and are happier in their own skin. This translates into a lighter (pun intended) feeling in the office each and every day, reduced conflicts, and more pleasant inter-employee and public interactions.

The best kinds of company weight loss programs are those that are super-organized and managed from the outside. These programs may offer financial and other incentives to employees to encourage large-scale participation. If successful, the cost of implementing a weight loss program will be more than offset by the savings in overall health care spending by the company. You can lighten up your whole office: it just takes the willingness to be proactive.

Lower Health Care Costs

Everyone is attacking the insurance companies and rightfully so. They have been asking for it every time they come up with another excuse to deny someone the care they need. They’ve become the evil in the industry when they put a policy in place to deny, deny, deny until the people who are entitled finally give up filling out form after form.

Of course, the American people are looking to the president to solve the problem. It doesn’t look as if the problem is anywhere close to being solved. In 2008, Obama said that making the American people buy their own insurance is like requiring the homeless to buy homes. In 2010, just two years later, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act he enacted did that very thing and in 2012 it was upheld by the Supreme Court even though it was immediately challenged by a majority of the States in the U.S.

In all of this turmoil, I don’t hear too many people complaining about the cost of health care itself. I’m not saying I don’t hear people complaining at all. I’m saying that the squeaky wheel gets the attention and the squeaky wheel in all this is the complaint about insurance companies and what the president can do. Health care costs itself could use a little more attention.

When a visit to the ER for a broken wrist costs a thousand dollars, I think we’re talking about a health care system that is literally running away itself unchecked. Walk into a hospital and look on the wall for a menu, a price list or anything that other businesses are required to provide. You won’t walk into a restaurant and order before knowing what the cost will be. Why can the hospital get away with it?

So, you can’t control the insurance companies and you can’t control the mess the government is making. How about take matters in your own hands and start cutting health care costs yourself? It’s not that hard. All you need to know is that the options are available and be willing to use them.

First of all, cut down on the trips you make to the hospital or the doctor’s office. This does not apply to people who have ongoing conditions that require frequent doctor’s office visits. If that doesn’t apply to you, then by all means be your own doctor.

If you have a symptom, look it up on the internet. Go to the credible sites that offer solid advice. Webmd is at the top of my list. But, you should also look at a few others. Just like you might get a second or third opinion on serious medical conditions, go to several different sites and make sure they are all giving the same advice. Mayoclinic, Medicinenet and Healthline are some others that have articles written by doctors and you just might find the information you need.

Remember though, if you take your health care into your own hands, you are responsible for following the advice the right way and using your own discretion if you happen to have a condition that precludes you from taking said advice. In a legal slap happy world, people love putting blame on others when they really only have themselves to blame. Quit being part of the problem, looking for that easy paycheck, and become part of the solution.

Cutting down on hospital or doctor’s office visits also means that you need to stock up on certain supplies and have them in your house or in your car at all times. Make yourself a kit of common medical items that you might possibly need for non-emergency situations. Bandaids, gauze, tape, peroxide, wound cleaners and anything else that you can imagine that will make your kit complete. Make a smaller kit of only the essentials for your pocketbook or book bag.

If there is a symptom that doesn’t require emergency attention and you have tried to look it up or you are unsure of what to do, go to a clinic. That’s why they are there. Clinics offer low cost solutions to getting medical advice. But you might get offered a prescription or a treatment that you can’t afford. Don’t hesitate to ask for alternatives. You’d be surprised how effective alternative health care treatments can be.

In the case that a trip to the hospital or the doctor’s office is necessary, there are still great ways to cut down on health care costs. The first thing you need to know is that health care does not have to cost as much as it does. Keep in mind that it’s a business. The insurance companies look at it like a business. The doctors and the hospitals run it like a business. So, treat it like a business!

If you have to go to the hospital, challenge the bill when you get it. Take it to the business office and negotiate it down. There is a sizable margin of wiggle room and you have every right to ask for it. Most of the time, you’ll get a reduced cost without even an argument. When they do argue, don’t take “no” for an answer. Climb the ladder of supervisors until you get to the decision maker. You will find that behind the closed doors is a much nicer person willing to give you a highly reduced hospital bill.

If you require surgery, treatment or any health care that will be set in the future, negotiate the bill upfront. Just like negotiating the hospital bill that you’ve already received, you can negotiate future health care costs as well. Climb the ladder to the decision maker and ask them what they can do for you. If insurance companies can get discounts of up to forty percent, then why shouldn’t you be entitled to the same?

Insurance companies aren’t designed with you in mind. They are money-making factories put in place to take your money and hope that they never have to pay. Looking to the government for the solution really isn’t doing anyone any good. When the government is required to find a solution, they have to find one that fits all shapes and sizes for all of its constituents. A task that is nearly impossible.

Take matters in your hands when you can and make sure you follow through when you make that decision. You just might live longer anyway. After all, you should be able to figure out what’s best for you and possibly keep yourself out of the hospital or the doctor’s office altogether.

How Did Health Care Costs Get So High?

First, let’s get a little historical perspective on American health care. To do that, let’s turn to the American civil war era. In that war, dated tactics and the carnage inflicted by modern weapons of the era combined to cause terrible results. Most of the deaths on both sides of that war were not the result of actual combat but to what happened after a battlefield wound was inflicted. To begin with, evacuation of the wounded moved at a snail’s pace in most instances causing severe delays in treatment of the wounded. Secondly, most wounds were subjected to wound related surgeries and amputations and this often resulted in massive infection. So you might survive a battle wound only to die at the hands of medical care providers whose good intentioned interventions were often quite lethal. High death tolls can also be ascribed to everyday sicknesses and diseases in a time when no antibiotics existed. In total something like 600,000 deaths occurred from all causes, over 2% of the U.S. population at the time!

Let’s skip to the first half of the 20th century for some additional perspective and to bring us up to more modern times. After the civil war there were steady improvements in American medicine in both the understanding and treatment of certain diseases, new surgical techniques and in physician education and training. But for the most part the best that doctors could offer their patients was a “wait and see” approach. Medicine could handle bone fractures and perform risky surgeries and the like (now increasingly practiced in sterile surgical environments) but medicines were not yet available to handle serious illnesses. The majority of deaths remained the result of untreatable conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, scarlet fever and measles and/or related complications. Doctors were increasingly aware of heart and vascular conditions, and cancer but they had almost nothing with which to treat these conditions.

This very basic understanding of American medical history helps us to understand that until quite recently (around the 1950’s) we had virtually no technologies with which to treat serious or even minor ailments. Nothing to treat you with means that visits to the doctor if at all were relegated to emergencies so in that scenario costs were obviously minuscule. A second factor that has become a key driver of today’s health care costs is that medical treatments that were provided were paid for out-of-pocket. There was no health insurance and certainly not health insurance paid by someone else like an employer. Costs were the responsibility of the individual and perhaps a few charities that among other things supported charity hospitals for the poor and destitute.

What does health care insurance have to do with health care costs? Its impact on health care costs is enormous. When health insurance for individuals and families emerged as a means for corporations to escape wage freezes and to attract and retain employees after World War II, almost overnight there was a great pool of money available for health care. Money, as a result of the availability of billions of dollars from health insurance pools, encouraged an innovative America to increase medical research efforts. As more and more Americans became insured not only through private, employer sponsored health insurance but through increased government funding that created Medicare, Medicaid and expanded veteran health care benefits, finding a cure for almost anything has become very lucrative. This is also the primary reason for the vast array of treatments we have available today. I do not wish to convey that this is a bad thing. Think of the tens of millions of lives that have been saved, extended and made more productive as a result. But with a funding source grown to its current magnitude (hundreds of billions of dollars annually) upward pressure on health care costs are inevitable. Doctor’s offer and most of us demand and get access to the latest available health care technology, pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions. So there is more health care to spend our money on and until very recently most of us were insured and the costs were largely covered by a third-party (government, employers). This is the “perfect storm” for higher and higher health care costs and by and large, the storm is intensifying.

At this point, let’s turn to a key question. Is the current trajectory of U.S. health care spending sustainable? Can America maintain its world competitiveness when 16%, heading for 20% of our gross national product is being spent on health care? What are the other industrialized countries spending on health care and is it even close to these numbers? Add politics and an election year and the whole issue gets badly muddled and misrepresented.

I believe that we need a revolutionary change in the way we think about health care, its availability, its costs and who pays for it. And if you think I am about to say we should arbitrarily and drastically reduce spending on health care you would be wrong. Here it is fellow citizens – health care spending needs to be preserved and protected for those who need it. And to free up these dollars those of us who don’t need it or can delay it or avoid it need to act. First, we need to convince our politicians that this country needs sustained public education with regard to the value of preventive health strategies. This should be a top priority and it has worked to reduce the number of U.S. smokers for example. If prevention were to take hold, it is reasonable to assume that those needing health care for the myriad of life style engendered chronic diseases would decrease dramatically. Millions of Americans are experiencing these diseases far earlier than in decades past and much of this is due to poor life style choices. This change alone would free up plenty of money to handle the health care costs of those in dire need of treatment, whether due to an acute emergency or chronic condition.

Let’s go deeper on the first issue. Most of us refuse do something about implementing basic wellness strategies into our daily lives. We don’t exercise but we offer a lot of excuses. We don’t eat right but we offer a lot of excuses. We smoke and/or drink alcohol to excess and we offer a lot of excuses as to why we can’t do anything about it. We don’t take advantage of preventive health check-ups that look at blood pressure, cholesterol readings and body weight but we offer a lot of excuses. In short we neglect these things and the result is that we succumb much earlier than necessary to chronic diseases like heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. We wind up accessing doctors for these and more routine matters because “health care is there” and somehow we think we have no responsibility for reducing our demand on it.

It is difficult for us to listen to these truths but easy to blame the sick. Maybe they should take better care of themselves! Well, that might be true or maybe they have a genetic condition and they have become among the unfortunate through absolutely no fault of their own. But the point is that you and I can implement personalized preventive disease measures as a way of dramatically improving health care access for others while reducing its costs. It is far better to be productive by doing something we can control then shifting the blame.

There are a huge number of free web sites available that can steer us to a more healthful life style. “Google” “preventive health care strategies”, look up your local hospital’s web site and you will find more than enough help to get you started. Let’s go America – we can do this!