Health Savings Accounts and the Cost of Staying Healthy

Healthcare premiums are ever on the rise. It is becoming more and more difficult to afford insurance these days. The unfortunate truth is that many treatments and procedures beneficial for health are not even being covered or severely limited by many insurance companies.

So what can we do? How do we adapt to all the problems regarding our broken healthcare system? What is the missing piece? Simple: Just don’t get sick in the first place! Seems like a no brainer. But not so easy you say. The good news, however, is that help is on the way. A Health Savings Account may just be what the doctor ordered.

Remaining healthy in today’s world is a big challenge. We live in a world of fast food on every corner, noxious chemicals in all our consumer products, environmental pollutants destroying our water, air and soil, as we are exposed to a multitude of toxic wastes. No wonder we are sick!

Almost every day we hear of someone who got sick: a relative, friend or a loved one perhaps. It would also be safe to say that we probably know somebody personally who has cancer, heart disease, is obese, has irritable bowel syndrome or is depressed. You name the disease, we probably know someone who has it. That is merely an indication of how unhealthy we really are as a society.

Besides the obvious reasons, as stated above, of why Americans are generally so unhealthy, our attention must be directed to an industry that caters to this segment of the population, the insurance industry itself, which in most cases focuses on “illness”.

As harsh as that sounds, when you really think about it, our current health insurance model is based primarily on treating illness rather than wellness. Insurance covers drugs, surgeries, hospital stays, diagnostic tests and a variety of other medical services. When you are sick your insurance kicks in and pays the bill. (thank goodness it does)

But how much of the insurance dollar is actually spent on wellness? How many insurance plans cover nutritional counseling, heavy metal detoxification, acupuncture, yoga, chelation therapy or other preventive modalities? Not many. Not much of the insurance dollar goes into preventing illness. Why is that so when wellness initiatives would save insurance companies millions of dollars in the long run? Putting money into staying healthy, while still providing benefits for the sick, would be a wise move for the insurance industry. Increasing wellness will reap great benefits and rewards for all.

So how can we be creative and find a type of insurance that combines the benefits for wellness and the coverage for illness? How can we begin to make inroads for creating a healthier society? How do we go from a society based on illness to one of wellness? What type of insurance can bring us the best of both worlds? The answer: Health Savings Accounts and other forms of Consumer Directed Health Plan options.

You probably have heard of Health Savings Accounts or HSAs. Their time has come. It is a hot topic in the upcoming 2008 presidential election. More and more employers are offering this option to their employees. Families and individuals are increasingly dropping their traditional coverage for less expensive, more flexible HSAs. It makes sense!

A Health Savings Account utilizes a high deductible insurance plan with a medical savings account which acts like a traditional IRA. You have coverage for illness with the major medical plan as you use the funds accumulated in your savings account to pay for services that are normally not covered by traditional insurance for staying healthy. These include services like dental, orthodontics, chiropractic, acupuncture, vision and much more.

HSAs put you in control over where you spend your health care dollars. The premiums that are paid go to both a traditional insurance plan as well as an account you can use to pay for wellness services. All the while you are building up your medical IRA which saves money in taxes, is portable and rolls over from year to year.

Health Savings Accounts represent the future of healthcare. Now there is finally a way to effectively counteract the traditional insurance model and begin to take back responsibility for your own health. Now that is a smart thing to do!

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