Take care of yourself
The main feature of a chronic condition is that it has to be managed every day. For most people it means taking some form of medication; others have to monitor vital signs like blood pressure or blood sugar levels; and yet others might need to follow a specific exercise routine.
The experts agree that the number 1 rule for your health and your money is to not neglect your condition. By looking after yourself properly, your condition will remain largely under control and you won’t have to spend large amounts of money on emergency care.
Get with the programme
If you are a member of a medical scheme, register yourself on the scheme’s chronic disease management programme. Most medical schemes have such programmes for the most common chronic conditions. The benefit of being on the programme, is that your medical scheme helps you to manage your condition. It makes sense for the scheme to keep you as healthy as possible as it keeps costs down, hence you can count on good advice and quality care from the scheme’s team of professionals.
Do it yourself
Do what you can at home. By taking responsibility for your care, and not leaving everything to your doctor, you can save a lot of money and your health will benefit. One way to do this is to listen to your body and track its changes. If you have hypertension, learn to check your blood pressure. If your heart has rhythm problems, check your pulse. For heart failure, weigh yourself every day and chart your symptoms. This kind of home monitoring lets you spot potentially harmful changes before they bloom into real trouble. It also saves you the cost of a doctor’s appointment or, at the very least, transport money (and time) to get to the clinic.
Make the changes
Part of the treatment for almost any chronic condition involves lifestyle changes. These usually include stopping smoking, losing weight, exercising more, sleeping better and shifting to healthier eating habits. Although these steps sound less important than taking your medicine, they are not. The people who make the necessary lifestyle changes are more likely to successfully manage a chronic condition than those who don’t. Investing the time and energy to make healthy changes usually pays handsome dividends, ranging from feeling better to living longer – and saving money on emergency care, unhealthy food and cigarettes.
Do the paperwork
For certain conditions, you can get a tax rebate. People with physical handicaps, for instance, can claim rebates for some of the support systems and equipment they need to function. The only chronic condition that qualifies as a handicap is mental illness, provided you have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist. The paperwork is usually quite daunting, but it is worth the effort.