How to keep your health and wealth strong if illness strikes

You can increase your chances of staying healthy and protecting your finances in the face of serious illness with a few simple strategies. 


A lifestyle that protects your health

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control,1 people who follow the healthy behaviors below are 66% less likely to die early from cancer and 65% less likely to die early from heart disease compared to people who do not.

  • Eat right. What we put in our bodies can have a dramatic effect on how likely we are to resist many diseases. To lower your chance of developing heart disease or cancer, the American Cancer Society suggests eating more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood; and less food containing sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol use. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking more alcohol than the daily recommendation has been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and breast cancer. Check with your doctor to learn more about the effects of alcohol on your health.
  • Don’t smoke. Not smoking provides the most effective protection against illnesses that cause early death. If you do smoke and want to quit, call 1-800-Quit-Now, a free telephone support service that can help you to stop smoking cigarettes or using tobacco.
  • Exercise. Add physical activity to your daily life. Using the stairs (instead of the elevator) or taking a daily walk can make a big difference in your well-being. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.2
  • Visit your doctor. An annual physical can pay big dividends down the road by preventing many diseases and detecting others early.

Money-wise moves to strengthen your finances

Making up for lost income and paying for uncovered medical expenses can wreak havoc on your finances. Three strategies can help you avoid this situation:

  • Your emergency fund. Make sure your “rainy day” account is well-funded (and refreshed often) so it’s there when you need it most.
  • Disability insurance. Did you know that illnesses such as cancer, heart attack, and diabetes cause the majority of long-term disabilities?3 Disability insurance can help you stay on track with your finances if you are unable to work due to a covered disability.
  • Critical illness insurance. If you don’t have it, consider it. Critical illness insurance can help you offset lost wages or meet out-of-pocket expenses for illnesses that might not be covered by your health or disability insurance policies.

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Four Specific Health Behaviors Contribute to a Longer Life,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.cdc.gov/Features/LiveLonger.

2. American Heart Association, “Physical activity improves quality of life,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp.

3. Council for Disability Awareness, “Chances of a Disability,” accessed January 10, 2014, http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/chances_disability/causes.asp

 

Sources

American Cancer Society, “American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/ACSGuidelinesonNutritionPhysicalActivityforCancerPrevention/acs-guidelines-on-nutrition-and-physical-activity-for-cancer-prevention-intro.

American Cancer Society, “Fitting in fitness: Simple steps add up,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/GetActive/fitting-in-fitness.

American Heart Association, “Alcohol and Heart Disease,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Alcohol-and-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_305173_Article.jsp.

American Heart Association, “Healthy Diet Goals,” accessed January 10, 2014, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Healthy-Diet-Goals_UCM_310436_SubHomePage.jsp.

 

In some states, "Critical Illness" is referred to as "Specified Disease" and is subject to state specific variations.

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