(BPT) - One in two Americans has a chronic condition and 86 percent of health care spending is on chronic care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it comes to saving money, health care is probably the last place you might look, but there are many ways to build better health and stronger savings.
1. Take advantage of preventive care services.
Being proactive about your health and taking care of yourself before problems have a chance to arise or get out of control is one of the best ways to reduce future health costs and prevent unnecessary headaches. Medical, dental and vision insurance cover a wide range of preventative care services — from well-visit exams with your primary care physician, to bi-annual dental check-ups and annual vision exams. But many are simply not taking advantage of these benefits. For example, a national online omnibus survey conducted on behalf of Anthem found that only 50 percent of people surveyed visit their dentist twice a year as recommended. When you skip those dental cleanings, problems are left to progress which can lead to more expensive treatments like extractions, root canals and dental surgeries.
2. Don’t ignore your teeth and eyes.
Neglecting dental and vision preventative care can impact your overall health — which can create large health care costs. You expect your dentist to spot cavities, but did you know your dentist might be able to detect trouble which extends beyond your mouth? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, 90 percent of diseases show signs and symptoms in the mouth. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, are better managed with good dental health. Periodontal (gum) disease can greatly impact the sugar levels of those suffering from diabetes and patients with diabetes who treat their periodontal disease have lower medical costs. Additionally, while a vision exam is important to see if you need correction to see well, a comprehensive exam allows an eye doctor to check for early signs of eye disease. An eye doctor can be the first to identify chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, through an eye exam, due to the increased visibility of blood vessel size. Getting a regular dental and vision check-up might reveal an underlying health problem that can be more easily treated because of early detection.
3. Integrate and save.
Consumers are often disconnected from the care they need — care that could have identified chronic disease earlier and before it becomes a high-dollar illness. One often overlooked way to save money on health care is by integrating your coverage — a growing trend in the insurance industry. Integrated health care connects the dots between health, dental, vision, disability and pharmacy coverage to increase communication between doctors and providers. Coordination of care also makes it possible for care managers and providers to work together to find the best solutions for your health. In some cases you may even be automatically enrolled for extra benefits customized to your health needs. An Anthem survey conducted by Employee Benefit News and SourceMedia found that more than half of employers offering integrated health care (IHC) plans see reduced costs. In addition to helping you save money, 74 percent of employers offering integrated health care agree that integrated health care improves health care outcomes. Many preventable illnesses and unnecessary costs can be avoided through a holistic approach to care.
Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. For more information about Anthem, visit www.antheminc.com.