acupuncture for wellness care
Health & Wellness

Prevention is the Best Medicine

December is a busy time of year for many therapists of all disciplines. The year is ending and there is a mad rush by many to use up their extended health benefits. I’m never sure whether to feel bad for, or laugh at, the people calling on the last couple weekends to book a last minute appointment. I also wish I could clone myself to take advantage of the busy season.

Healthy Resolutions

January is a time of renewal. Resolutions for the New Year abound and resolutions about health and fitness are common. This can tie in well with extended health plans renewing.

Encouraging wellness and prevention helps improve quality of life…

Charles Boustany

A friend of mine refuses to use her benefits plan in the first half of the year “in case” she gets hurt and needs it later. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. However, many of the people I treat are seeing me for chronic and overuse conditions. Instead of getting treatment when they first feel stress or tension or pain they wait until the condition becomes severe. At this point it often takes multiple treatments to feel better.

Tuneup vs Overhaul

Getting regular treatments can keep a problem from getting out of hand. When a problem is small a slight nudge in the right direction can be all that is needed to get well again. The longer a problem is left to develop the more work it takes to return to normal.

Think of your body like a car. Getting regular oil changes and topping up your oil can keep your engine from overheating and seizing up. Regular treatment (for example massage for overused muscles or acupuncture for stress or pain) can keep your body humming along instead of seizing up.

Maximizing Benefits

One way to maximize your benefits is to spread them out throughout the year. Create a health maintenance plan for yourself. Getting regularly scheduled treatments to prevent problems from arising or getting worse is more efficient than waiting until things get bad. It’s also less painful. People claim they don’t have time for maintenance visits. So how do they find time to come multiple times a week to fix a problem.

Here’s how to create your own maintenance plan:

  • Check your plan for the maximum yearly allowance.
  • Divide your yearly allowance by the cost of one treatment. This will tell you how many treatments per year you can get. (eg. $500 maximum / $75 per treatment = 6.667)
  • Divide the year (52 weeks) by the number of treatments to see how often you can come. (eg. 52 week / 6 treatments = almost 1 visit every 8 weeks).
  • Book your visits in advance and put them in your calendar. Make it a habit to look after yourself. Booking in advance allows you to choose the day/time that works best for you instead of trying to squeeze into what the therapist has available.

Some plans have separate categories of therapy so you might have a $500 maximum for massage and a separate $500 maximum for acupuncture. Consider alternating massage one month and acupuncture the next to keep yourself healthy and feeling great. Ask your therapist how best to schedule your appointments and maximize your benefits.

No Benefits Plan?

What if you are self-employed and don’t have a benefits plan? There are other options for business owners to create their own plan. Companies such as Blue Cross, SureHealth, Green Shield and Manulife offer extended health benefit plans to individuals. Be sure to read the fine print and weigh out your options carefully as they are all different. As a sole-proprietor of your own business you can can claim the premiums as a tax deduction.

Premiums paid to private health plans can be deducted from your business income, but you must be the sole proprietor of your business, and it must be your primary source of income.

Gavin Prout – Special Benefits Insurance Services

This article in the Globe and Mail discusses other benefits that self-employed people might want to consider such as disability, critical illness and life insurance.

You could also consider setting up your own “plan” if your needs are small. Look at the cost of premiums with other health plans and consider paying that much per month into a separate high interest savings account. Then using that money to pay for dental visits, massage, acupuncture, etc. Your own health spending account with no restrictions.

Whatever your resolutions and goals for the New Year might be, I wish you a healthy and happy year.