Is the car you’re driving right now as old as you are? Unless you happen to be a classic car enthusiast, your answer is likely no. When our cars stop running or just stop being pleasing to us, we trade in and trade up. Unfortunately, the body you’re born with is the body you’re stuck with for the most part. You can’t trade it in. So why do so many of us take better care of our vehicles than the flesh-and-blood vehicle we have to get through life in? Your Health Care Owner’s Manual We’re not advocating that you stop taking care of your car, just hoping this list of comparable health maintenance becomes a priority too. Consider it your new owner’s manual.
- Insure it. Car insurance protects you and your vehicle from unexpected accidents and costs. Since most bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical expenses, doesn’t it make sense to also insure your health? If you’re uninsured, open enrollment runs Nov. 1, 2016 – Jan. 31, 2017. For coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2017, you must enroll by Dec. 15, 2016. Otherwise, you may have a gap in your coverage, leaving you vulnerable to health and financial risks.
- Get the oil changed and go in for regular tune-ups. Routine maintenance keeps your car running smoothly and is a worthwhile investment. Treat your health the same way. Annual visits with your doctor are an important time to discuss how you can stay healthy, as well as ways to prevent certain conditions you may be at risk for. Routine health screenings allow your doctor to check for signs of a serious disease, often before you notice symptoms. These screenings can help you stop a disease in its tracks, get an early diagnosis, improve your outcome and keep your future health costs down. You can manage your health care with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan mobile app, 24/7. Download the app from the Apple® App Store or Google® Play using the keyword “BCBSM.”*
- Take it to the shop when there’s something wrong. Granted, your body doesn’t have a “check engine” light, but as its keeper, you know when you don’t feel right. If your car is making a funny noise, you take it in. Do the same for yourself when you aren’t feeling well.
- Wash and wax. You know that washing and waxing your car helps prevent rust and keeps your car’s paint job looking flawless. In the case of your body, getting enough exercise and eating healthy foods does more than help you keep a toned physique. These habits are shown to decrease your risk for cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, while also prolonging your life expectancy and improving your mental health.
- Know your levels. You make sure your tires are full of air, that your oil isn’t low, and that all your lights are functional. Do the same for your health by paying attention to important health stats such as BMI, waist circumference and blood pressure. If those numbers are higher than what’s healthy, you might want to take some healthy corrective steps, just as you might top off your fluid levels.
- Contact an expert. When it comes to major decisions about our cars, we often talk to a car specialist when we need assistance or repairs. The same should be done with health insurance. Y Blue Cross has multiple walk-in center locations statewide, 150 health plan advisors, and 5,000 agents ready to help you understand and compare your health insurance options. Health plan advisors can be reached at 888-899-2968 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. If you’re a savvy online shopper, you can also visit bcbsm.com/myblue.
Rick Notter is the director of Individual Business Marketing and Distribution at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more tips on taking care of your health, visit MIBluesPerspectives.com. Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect 2017 open enrollment dates.