If you’re like many Americans, your health care is taking a major bite out of your paycheck. According to the Organization for Economic Development, the average American spends $7,960 on health care annually, representing nearly 20 percent of the average U.S. income of $40,000.
Experts are advising consumers to take a proactive approach toward reducing their health care expenses.
“The best way to reduce health care costs is to prevent them,” says Dr. Andrew Myers, an expert in preventative health and nutrition, and author of “Health is Wealth.”
“Living a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of chronic illnesses that are expensive to manage.”
To help, Myers offers some simple healthy living tips:
• Get screened: Health and wellness screenings are crucial for early detection of health issues. Know what you are at risk for, so you know what you should be managing.
• Get active: Be more active in your daily life, whether that is exercising, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking instead of driving. Strive to get the recommended 30 minutes of heart-healthy exercise three to five times weekly.
• Eat healthier: Set simple goals like incorporating a fruit or vegetable into every meal, or replacing a junk food snack with something nutritious.
• Chart your progress: Keep track of your progress and stay motivated by celebrating your successes. Mark your calendar on the day you start, as well as key dates and benchmarks along the way. When you reach a goal, make a new one, and be an inspiration to those around you.
• Share the challenge: Invite friends or family members to undertake a health challenge with you. A buddy system keeps you accountable and increases your chance of success.
You don’t need an expensive doctor’s appointment to get important health screenings. Each year in the Rim Country, free and low-cost screenings are offered at health fairs, such as the Women’s Health and Wellness Forum in the spring, the Community Health and Care Fair in the fall and another health fair in Pine and at facilities providing services for seniors.
Some retailers offer free health screenings. For example, Sam’s Club offers free health and wellness screenings the first Saturday of each month nationwide. Since 2010, the company has provided over one million preventative screenings to both members and non-members alike.
The screenings include Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure tests, diabetes screenings, and timely allergy tests in spring and children’s health screenings in advance of the school year.
“My pharmacists recommended I go, and after the first screening, I’ve never missed one,” says Douglas B., a Sam’s Club Member from Atlanta, Ga. recounting how much screenings have helped him. “I have type 2 diabetes, and now instead of paying for my blood pressure and BMI tests, I go to Sam’s Club. They expect me now and know I’ll be the first in line.”
In addition to free monthly screenings, Sam’s Club pharmacists are great resources on smoking cessation, supplementation and wellness regimen practices — all free to members and the community. Douglas B. says he would be lost without these services. “The pharmacists take the time to explain everything in terms I understand.”
To learn more, visit www.samsclub.com/ healthyliving.
Undertake preventive measures now to protect your greatest asset — your health.