Medical care costs continue to rise. This fact has implications for all of us, but especially for persons of retirement age.
Financial experts at Fidelity Investments advise retirees to set aside nearly $250,000 to cover medical expenses during their senior years. According to Fidelity’s analysis, projected medical costs have risen 50 percent over the past seven years. Equally troubling is the observation that the trend upward shows no sign of abating, and the Medicare trust fund is expected to be insolvent by 2019.
Will these worrisome costs trigger changes in lifestyle? Will we decide to become fit to reduce medical expenses? Or will only the fittest survive?
A significant percent (some experts place the estimate at 80 percent) of the medical expenses we incur are a function of lifestyle choices such as eating too much, smoking, not exercising consistently and abusing drugs and alcohol. The implication is clear: we can prevent the majority of medical illnesses and associated costs by adopting healthful lifestyles.
If we can no longer afford expensive care or prescription drugs to deal with our medical conditions, we certainly will have a strong incentive to stay as fit as possible.
Before I decided to lose weight and get fit, my medical insurer had a file on me that was at least five inches thick. Much of what I was treated for, whether it was gallbladder surgery or chest pain, was a function of lifestyle. I ate too much, so I weighed too much. I seldom exercised, and I enjoyed nightly cocktails. One overnight stay in the hospital for chest pain cost several thousand dollars.
Today, I keep my weight in the normal range, I exercise each day and I limit alcohol to an occasional glass of wine. As a consequence, except for an occasional sinus infection, my medical expenses are minimal. I want to keep them this way, partly to preserve my good health but also to preserve my nest egg. As medical care costs continue to rise, survival of the fittest may take on a new meaning.
"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." Charles Darwin