How to Have Health Like the Rich

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Can you have the health of a rich person even if you aren’t a multi-billionaire? It turns out that income plays a significant role in health, wellness and life expectancy. But even if you aren’t super-wealthy, you can still take action to be as healthy as the well to do. There are some key differences between how people of different income levels approach health.

1. Fill prescriptions

Prescription co-pays can add up and it may be tempting to cut corners by skipping a few days here and there, cutting pills in half or avoiding prescriptions altogether.

If you sense that you don’t really ‘need’ the medication prescribed to you- ask your doctor if you can do without it. At the very least, tell your doctor if you aren’t taking your medication as directed. If you don’t take your prescribed treatment for high blood sugar or high blood pressure after a stroke, yet don’t inform your doctor of what you are doing, your physician will continue to try to regulate your health – but with inaccurate information about your medications. Over the long term, this will lead to a great deal of confusion, and a worsened health condition.

If your medication is expensive, ask about alternative generic treatments or free samples. Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance to help patients obtain high-cost medicine at a more reasonable price.

2. Reschedule missed appointments

If you can’t make it to an appointment for a heart test- call ahead of time to cancel your appointment and reschedule it.

On a similar note, keep your contact information updated with your health care providers and health insurance. Most medical staff are faced with the exasperating task of trying to track down ‘no shows’ using outdated and inaccurate contact information.

3. Ask around about recommendations for hospitals, therapists, doctors, and clinics

Ask your friends, family, and neighbors which health care clinics and providers they have had good experiences with.

Most of the time, you have more flexibility than you realize when it comes to choosing your health care.

4. Maintain health insurance for yourself and your family

This seems obvious. It can be tremendously challenging to get a part-time or full-time job that provides benefits- especially if you have less formal education and less sought-after work place skills. Current government efforts to provide adequate health insurance for Americans who are not employed in high paying jobs have helped many Americans. Find out what you are entitled to and follow through with obtaining the health coverage that you need- whether through an employer, a spouse’s employer or a government-sponsored program.

5. Don't ignore warning signs

It can be tempting to ignore annoying symptoms such as shortness of breath, tingling, or dizziness. However, these can be signs of something serious, and you need to figure out the cause and follow through with appropriate treatment. Don’t wait until you need to go to the emergency room to get your headaches taken care of.

6. Get educated about your condition

Whether you have had a stroke, a TIA, diabetes or kidney disease- find out more about your illness. Sure, it is the job of your doctor, nurses and pharmacists to explain everything to you and to prescribe the best care. But the more you learn- the more you are empowered to understand what they are telling you and why.

7. Ask questions

Ask about anticipated side effects, long-term outcome, exceptions, and unusual symptoms. The more productive dialogue you have with your health care team, the better the outcome of your health.

8. Keep track of medical records

Maintain a folder or file of your test results, prescriptions, and medical history. Your health care providers want to give you the best care possible- and the more accurate information they have, the better for you. If you are allergic to a medication, your healthcare team needs to know. Similarly, if you have already tried a treatment that did not work for you, your healthcare team needs to know so they can avoid repeatedly trying something that doesn’t help you.

9. Get involved

The rich famously contribute to organizations that promote research and advances in medicine. You probably can’t donate money- but you can become familiar with the leading organizations that work on improving care for your illness- whether it is stroke, cerebrovascular disease or a blood clotting disorder. Stay on top of new developments and learn as much as you can about your health condition.

10. Think about wellness

The old saying is true- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Exercise, eat right, lower your stress level and stop smoking. None of these wellness efforts are expensive- but they all take some personal effort and planning.

It is a fact that income levels and economic status affect health. Higher income generally is correlated with better health, while lower income is a predictor for poorer health. However, you don’t have to be filthy rich to enjoy the same health as the affluent.

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