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Tips to keeping health and wellness costs down

Senior Wellness | Apr 13, 2015

Health care costs are a primary concern for aging Americans. And while there is something to be said about taking advantage of comparison tools to find a lower price for Medicare supplemental insurance, when it comes to truly curbing expenses, improving health is likely the best route.

Take advantage of workplace programs
Whether it's a yoga class that helps reduce stress or a discount on a flu vaccine from an employer, staying healthy and reducing care costs can be as easy as utilizing free workplace programs. Many programs encourage employees to exercise or eat better. Not only will this improve overall health, but it could have a resounding impact on curbing health care costs.

Find cheap medication
Prescription drug coverage can be expensive. And while Medicare part D is available for seniors looking to cut down on medication costs, sometimes it pays to shop around. According to LearnVest, a resource that helps Americans budget their money, doctors offices often have free samples of medications. And in addition to taking free drugs whenever possible, it's also a good idea to switch to a generic medication, as opposed to a brand name one, as it's likely cheaper.

Buy frozen fruit and vegetables
That's right, purchasing frozen fruit instead of the fresh stuff can help reduce health and wellness costs. As fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, finding a low price on frozen products can pay off in the end. And according to experts, there's little difference with frozen fruits and veggies and fresh ones.

"In many cases it's even more nutritious because fruits and vegetables are taken straight from the fields to the manufacturer and frozen," Libby Mills, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told LearnVest. "'Fresh' items may have traveled all over the country, then sat in the supermarket for days, losing nutrients before you buy them."

Take advantage of urgent care
A hospital visit should be avoided at all costs unless there's truly an emergency. The fact of the matter is that care at a hospital - even for routine procedures - is more expensive than urgent care.

"If you go to the E.R. for a non-life-threatening concern, you could be waiting around a long time for care and spending a lot more money - especially if you have a high deductible to meet," Martin Rosen, executive vice president and cofounder of Health Advocate, Inc., a health-care advocacy and assistance company, told LearnVest.

Exercise accidentally
Working out doesn't have to be a chore when done accidentally. So what does that mean?

Someone doesn't have to buy a gym membership to stay healthy. Living an active lifestyle and choosing to, say, take the stairs over the elevator every day can make all the difference in keeping care costs down.

"Be mindful of how modern 'conveniences' have engineered physical activity out of our lives: Walk or bike instead of driving short distances, use a manual lawnmower, and wash your car instead of going through the automatic car wash," he says. "You can actually save money if you choose these physically active options over the mechanized ones."