For many people, figuring out what to spend money on is best approached with a plan of priorities. When creating your budget, don’t just include standard expenses like gas and rent—also add a line for healthy living. If you forget to factor in the cost of health insurance or preventive care, you might not have the money when you need it or think of it as a cost you can skip, but you shouldn’t. Not only does having insurance and getting preventive care protect your physical health, but it can actually save you money in the long-term: Staying on top of your health can help you avoid costs associated with emergencies or serious conditions that could have been easily dealt with if caught earlier.
Here are a few tips for incorporating health care into your existing budget:
- Identify your health insurance costs. When creating your ideal health care budget, consider three different costs: fixed, routine and unexpected. Fixed costs are your monthly premium, routine costs are the anticipated amount you’ll pay for things like a monthly prescription and unexpected costs are unforeseen circumstances like emergency room visits. One way Blue Cross® Physician Choice PPO members can reduce those costs is to find a primary care physician in the Level 1 OSC. You’ll end up paying less every time you see a doctor.
- Use pre-tax dollars whenever you can. Health Spending Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are also a great way to budget for your health costs. In both, you set money aside pre-taxes to use for preventive and emergency care.
- Create a healthy food budget. A healthy lifestyle starts in the kitchen. Do you eat fast food frequently because you think cooking at home is too expensive? Do you waste money when shopping at the grocery store? Understanding your spending habits as it pertains to food can help you adjust your monthly budget to account for healthier food options (which don’t have to cost a lot). Try these healthy grocery shopping and meal prep options.
- Consider joining a local gym. While gym memberships can be expensive, there are always low-cost options. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network members have access to Blue365, a discount program that allows members to save gym memberships and other healthy living options.
For more tips on creating a healthy budget, check out these blogs:
- Protect Yourself, Your Loved Ones and Your Future
- How Well Do You Understand Your Options for Purchasing Health Insurance?
- The 5 Costs That Make Up Your Health Plan
Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012