It is key that we understand the true costs of unhealthy behaviors and habits, and how health is truly wealth. Having monetary wealth will make you better off not only in terms of your standard of living. Poor health will cost you a lot of money, and not just in medical bills. Healthy people can expect to live longer and happier lives and the opposite is true with lower income earners having a higher likelihood of suffering prematurely from disease and death. The factors that contribute to this disparity are inadequate access to medical care, higher rates of behavioral risk factors like smoking and obesity, less access to fresh food and spaces to exercise, and overcrowded living conditions with more susceptibility to disease.
The good news is there is no absolute requirement that you be rich to have good health. I view good health largely as the result of your decisions, your actions, and your adherence to the good health and wellness principles you have developed over a long period of time. These healthy habits include exercising and eating healthy, building stress resilience, and avoiding tobacco use and obesity. Being wealthy just makes it more likely you will be inclined to do these things. On a side note, medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US and most people who filed had some type of health insurance. This means that health insurance is not enough to cover you financially in the case of significant health disaster. This has not changed even after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010.
So, being wealthy makes it more likely you will have good health and being financially challenged increases your likelihood of poor health. I’m sure you’re wondering by now whether good health will increase your likelihood of being wealthy? Not exactly, but your chances will be improved as poor health will certainly cost you money. The lifetime savings you can expect to recoup by going from an obese to a healthy weight is estimated to be $36,000 and this is extremely conservative. These savings are due to the higher cost of health insurance (up to twice as much) and more time being spent in the doctor’s office and hospital instead of at work. It is unfortunate and unfair but obese people also earn lower salaries and workplace promotions are fewer. Smoking can cost you a whole lot more money than obesity. Smoking costs tobacco users an average of $1.1 million over their lifetimes and close to double if they live in a state with high tobacco taxes. Did you know a pack of cigarettes costs more than $14 in New York state? This loss of money is a result of the dollars spent on tobacco products, increased healthcare costs, and lost income.
Our country spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world, so our health maladies are not due to an overwhelming lack of concern. Our focus must be on maintaining a healthy weight and abstaining from tobacco if we are going to maximize our healthy lifestyle and reduce the overwhelming costs and burdens related to poor health. We must begin making the maximum contribution in our health investment and we will see first-hand how this investment repays us in increased quality and quantity of life, and more money in our pockets! Your investment may not be that substantial early on, but with incremental change you can begin to invest wholeheartedly into your health and wellbeing.