As the question that is health care looms in Washington, it is important to note that there has been a serious lack of consideration for perhaps the most important aspect of all–the discussion that will actually lower health care costs. That is, the lifestyle choices we make. Analysis shows that 70 percent of the cost drivers in the health care system are in four areas: cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Nowhere in the House, Senate or health care documents, are there incentives or rewards for lifestyle choices that prevent these ailments. Regardless of when the president and Congress resume their quest to control the health care system, each of us can make decisions now that will lessen our need to utilize health care services, thus lowering costs.

Introducing incentives for healthy living
Therefore, incentives for such decisions like staying healthy should be felt in the family checkbook. Those who stay physically fit and are conscious of their nutrition should be rewarded by the health care system. Why should someone who exercises and has a diet rich in nutrition pay the same premium as someone who smokes and eats nothing but fast food? Sadly, this is how the system operates today.

The time is now to retain a level of control when it comes to our own well-being. Certainly we would not consider allowing the government to choose our home or vehicle–why then do we let them run our most personal and individual need–health care? Medical needs vary greatly from person to person, and therefore so does cost. We need to be the ones in control. Should we be able to choose where to receive non-emergency health care based upon costs and quality? In my travels to Southeast Asia I discovered that the ability to see prices for medical treatment and surgeries is quite common. In America it is unheard of.

Estate planning also part of the picture
In addition to encouraging your clients to integrate physical fitness and proper nutrition into their lives, it is important to make sure you are helping them put together their estate planning documents in a fashion that minimizes their exposure to long term care expenses and making them aware of their ability to defer taxes, especially as they age and the need for medical care increases.

With 8,000 people turning age 60 every day in America, where we have a life expectancy of some 24 years beyond that, Washington, D.C. is not going to lower health care costs until “We the People” use the force of our freedoms to make a personal choice to live more healthy lives.