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How you can save upward of $2,000 annually while improving your health

Darla Mercado
Now that Medicare open enrollment has begun, there are some steps you can take to make sure you have the best possible coverage in 2019.

If you want to increase your savings and live long enough to enjoy your cash, consider this simple tip: Follow your doctor’s orders.

Sticking to your physician’s recommendations — that is, taking your prescribed medications and watching your diet — can help you pocket upward of $2,000 a year in additional savings, according to recent data from HealthyCapital.

The medical data company, a joint venture between retirement healthcare cost provider HealthView Services and healthcare system Mercy, combed through claims data from individuals aged 18 through 90.

“We know that statistically, half of the people in the work force have at least one chronic condition,” said Ron Mastrogiovanni, CEO of HealthyCapital.

“We’re talking about making small changes in behavior: If we can save a couple thousand a year, it really adds up,” he said.

Here’s how just a few lifestyle tweaks can boost your bottom line.


An apple a day

A 50-year-old man with high-blood pressure who fails to follow his doctor’s orders can expect to spend an average of $7,533 each year in out-of-pocket health care costs, HealthyCapital found.

He also would have an expected longevity of 84 years.

“Health care premiums [at a workplace plan] would stay the same regardless of the condition, but your out-of-pocket costs — hospitalization, doctor’s visits, tests and prescriptions — would grow,” said Michael Daley, product marketing manager at HealthyCapital.

If this same 50-year-old were to take his prescribed medication, reduce his sodium intake and made other lifestyle changes to improve his condition, he would lower his out-of-pocket health care expenses to $5,299.

That’s a reduction of $2,234.

This patient would also boost his life expectancy to 87 years, according to HealthyCapital.


Chronic conditions

You can improve your savings by investing the money you would’ve otherwise spent on healthcare expenses.

In one example, a 45-year-old woman named Jane received a recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Failure to follow her doctor’s advice, including reducing salt and turning toward healthier fats, could leave her with $5,974 in out-of-pocket medical expenses that year. That cost would fall to $4,424 if she diligently went along with her physician’s instructions, HealthyCapital found.

See below for cost details.


Between ages 45 and 64, Jane could spend an extra $67,431 if she were negligent in managing her chronic illnesses. See the chart above for details on her costs.

If she were to invest the amount she saved each year from managing her medical conditions, earning 6 percent annually, she would have accumulated $108,639 by age 65, according to HealthyCapital.

“Someone who takes their medication lives two or three years longer, and their costs in retirement are lower, too,” said Mastrogiovanni of HealthyCapital. “You’re reducing costs and you have more money in your pocket — that’s’ what motivates people to make that simple change.”

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