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Six tips to better manage health

Three trillion dollars are spent every year on health care in the United States. Fortunately, anyone willing to be proactive about managing their well-being can save time, money and hassle on health care. Consider the following tips to ensure a healthy present and future:

• Know the Numbers: Be familiar with blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and Body Mass Index (BMI) to maintain a clean bill of health. It helps identify what may need more attention, and indicates risk for chronic conditions, including diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease. The American Heart Association has online tools to help track critical health numbers, including blood sugar and blood pressure.

• Learn Family History: The risk for chronic conditions and illness varies based on age, race, genetics, health history and lifestyle, among other factors. While some of these influences are modifiable, others are not. Make time to learn more about your family health history, starting with immediate family (parents and siblings) and branching out to grandparents and cousins. Informing a primary care doctor of any findings can better prepare him/her to detect disease and establish a care plan.

• Take Preventive Action: Timely preventive care reduces medical treatment costs and lowers the risk for serious illnesses. Reports show that chronic disease and early death are often linked to lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and other modifiable risk factors. Practicing healthy behaviors, whether it’s 30 minutes of exercise or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, saves time and money that might otherwise go toward health care costs.

• Collaborate with a Care Team: Another important means of prevention is open communication with a family doctor. Annual checkups involve important tests and screenings catering to individual needs. People with access to their primary care physician receive the care they need in the appropriate setting, and are less likely to visit the emergency room for non-emergent conditions. The Blue Cross mobile app can be helpful in finding doctors and hospitals nearby, or to check deductibles and claims.

• Set Health Goals: One of the best ways to maintain accountability is to establish a strong set of health goals. According to Forbes, establishing clear, compelling goals musters focus toward actionable behavior. Start with simple, realistic goals you can easily integrate into everyday life. For example, drinking 16 more ounces of water than last week, or committing to a 10-minute walk every few hours throughout the workday.

Dr. S. George Kipa is deputy chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. To learn more about The Blue Cross Patient-Centered Medical Home program, visit:

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