My mother was slender, ate a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, and exercised regularly. She died of cancer two months after her 62nd birthday.
My father was a healthy, normal-weight man when a stroke killed him. A friend who never smoked recently died of lung cancer.
So I'm not one of those people who believes living right can somehow immunize us against health care disasters. Disease, accidents and disability can happen to anyone.
Still, a sizable chunk of health care spending in the U.S. wouldn't be necessary if we took better care of ourselves. So-called "modifiable health risk factors," such as how much we weigh, what we eat and drink, how much we exercise and whether we smoke "are responsible for much of the illness, healthcare utilization, and subsequent costs related to chronic disease," as one set of researchers put it. Obesity and smoking alone may add $100 billion to $150 billion a year to U.S. health care costs.
Most of what's written about reducing medical expenses is really more about managing the costs you incur. Finding a good health insurance plan, fighting back when you're denied coverage and negotiating medical bills can help with that.
But this column is about trying to prevent the big costs before they occur.
Here are the 10 costliest medical conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: