Smart steps to avoid soaring medical costs

Prevention is always better than cure. As we get older, different health problems come up – but by setting actions in place now, you can minimise the impact any future medical misfortune may have on you and your loved ones.

Two of the key issues – and expenses – facing retirees are age-related diseases and dental care.

Age-related diseases

As we age, certain diseases and conditions become more common. Top problem areas include:

  • Joints and bones (arthritis, osteoporosis)
  • Respiration
  • Circulation (heart disease, strokes)
  • Digestion and metabolism (diabetes, obesity)
  • Eyesight (cataracts)
  • Motor skills (Parkinson’s, injuries from falls)
  • Oral health (see below)
  • Tissues (cancer and hyperplasic tumors, including prostrate)
  • Weakened immune system (influenza and pneumonia)
  • Mental health (depression, Alzheimer’s)

Many of these conditions can be relieved, or even prevented, by maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle – for example, taking daily exercise, keeping yourself mentally stimulated, and maintaining a busy social life. Not only will this set you in good stead for your elderly years, it will help you stay happy, healthy, and stress-free in the present!

None of this need be expensive to maintain as you approach retirement; there are a number of free and discounted courses and resources available to relieve the financial strain of keeping fit and active.

Dental care

A 2011 survey by the Department of Health discovered that over 40% of Hong Kong adults skip regular dental check-ups. Most also admit to ignoring symptoms like bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth sensitivity, instead only seeking medical care when it gets more serious. It’s easy to postpone looking after healthy teeth, but when things go wrong it can be very expensive. Getting organised now can help you save money, hassle, and pain further down the line. As with health and fitness, dental check-ups need not be a monetary burden if you make good use of the resources on offer.

Options for discounted care include:

  • Using employee welfare (if any);
  • Using public dental services (for a civil servant or associated family member);
  • Using the dental services and educational resources provided by non-profit and community hospitals;
  • Receiving reduced fees as a teaching patient at the Prince Philip Dental Hospital.

Secure a worry-free financial future today

As well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can relieve the stress and cost of many health problems by keeping emergency savings, and signing up for medical insurance now. Insurance can cover many of the ailments listed above, giving you greater peace of mind. However, as you get older, it’s harder to get accepted by various insurance providers as your risk levels rise – so plan ahead:

  • Understand: Some insurance plans can be unclear on their coverage, so don’t sign up if you’re unsure.
  • Check: Some personal medical insurance plans don’t cover dental care or mental illness, leaving you with two key areas that become increasingly problematic as you age. Bolster basic coverage with appropriate riders and add-ons to make sure you’re fully protected, saving you and your family from future stress and expense.
  • Personalise: There’s no one-size-fits-all insurance plan. Consider your own personal risk level – for example, you may have more need for Accident Insurance than others. If certain conditions run in the family, look for a plan that provides full coverage for your specific concerns.