Thursday, September 25, 2008
Want to save on health costs? Here's one way
Obese individuals spend a third more money on health care services

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

Time magazine recently wrote an article on how much money one could actually save by being healthy. They included interesting numbers based upon a variety of calculations. The first thing addressed was obesity. Obese individuals spend a third more money on health care services through their lifetime. They also spend three quarters more money on medications. That is money that could be kept in your pocket of invested to make more money. In addition, it costs less to eat less. So you can save money by buying less food in the first place. We are seeing an epidemic of Type II diabetes related to obesity. Therefore, if you are obese, you are more likely to get diabetes. There are some interesting figures associated with diabetes as well. The average out of pocket cost for a well-controlled diabetic is $454. This was based on an analysis of government data. It is estimated that one out of two diabetics take care of themselves and are in the well-controlled category. For the group that does not take that kind of care, the annual costs become $12,000 a year once their disease catches up with them. If an individual gets diabetes at age 40 and takes good care of it until age 65, the amount saved if invested wisely would total about $700,000 after that 25-year period. Another investment that can pay off is quitting smoking. An individual who quits smoking and invests the cigarette money wisely can save $100,000 between ages 40 and 65. More money is saved if the smoker later avoids emphysema or lung cancer. The third area is exercise. Regular exercise can help control blood pressure and heart disease. The average annual cost of those to the individual is $606. Saving that amount for 25 years can result in savings of $35,000. The last item had to do with staying healthy enough to avoid a stay in an extended care facility (nursing home). A nursing home stay for an individual without insurance and not poor enough to be on Medicaid averages $300,000. If you take all of these things together, they can pay off over the long run. Even if your savings are not as extensive as those cited in the Time magazine article, you still could put away tens of thousands of dollars by being healthy. Most people don't appreciate the high costs of being ill.

La Red holds fundraiser Seacrets of Ocean City and Ocean 98.1 FM WOCM have joined with Nanticoke Hospital, Sussex Surgical, Bassett Furniture and Beebe Medical Center to promote a Fall Fundraiser for La Red Health Center at Seacrets in Ocean City on Sunday, Oct. 5 from 1 to 6 p.m. La Red Health Center, the only federally qualified health center in Sussex County, was established in 2001 to serve all members of the community, especially those who are underinsured, uninsured or face other barriers to medical care. Event organizers are selling $100 tickets which entitle ticket holders to the entrance fee, a buffet lunch, a chance to win $500, and a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Only 250 tickets will be sold. To purchase these tickets, contact Marilyn at 302-855-1233. You do not have to be present the day of the fundraiser to be eligible to win the raffle. General admission tickets which include a buffet lunch are also available for $15. For more information about La Red Health Center, call 855-1233 or visit

A.W.A.K.E. group to meet "Alert, Well and Keeping Energetic" (A.W.A.K.E.) will meet at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Medical Staff Conference Room on Monday, Oct. 6, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There is no cost to attend and membership is not required. Refreshments will be served. A.W.A.K.E. is a health awareness and support group for people with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, as well as their family and friends. The purpose is to provide support through education, idea sharing and information among people who are affected by sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. For more, call Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center at 629-6611 ext. 3815 or email

Golf outing benefits Hospice The Delaware Hospice Golf Outing is Monday, Oct. 6 at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro. Ê For a team of four, the fee is $500 or $125 per person, which includes green fees, cart, box lunch, refreshment cart and awards reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres. The format will be a scramble. Registration begins at 10 a.m. followed by lunch at 11 a.m. The game willÊbeginÊwith a shotgun start at noon. The award reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sponsorships are available. Funds raised will help Delaware Hospice continue to provide a high standard of excellence in the programs and services it provides to Kent and Sussex Counties. For more, contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at 856-7717, ext. 2123, or visit