Monday, February 23, 2009

Health Economics Part 3

Budgeting for Health

There is no magic bullet, no miracle drug, no life-enhancing vitamin, no surgery or ‘as seen on tv’ before and after diet plan or exercise equipment that will make you healthy!

Get over it and take personal responsibility for your health.

Regaining and then maintaining health requires a commitment of your time, consistency of effort, and an investment of money. All are required.

Exercise can be free, or you can join a gym. In either case, it takes time and consistent effort. Buying local produce, shopping and preparing better foods requires money, effort and time.

There is no greater investment, or return on your investment, than your health.

I have outlined some of the major areas where you will have to invest your time, effort and money to improve and maximize your health.

Gym/health club memberships, yoga class or dancing lessons, etc.
Home workout equipment: floor mat, gym balls, free weights, treadmill, elliptical, etc.
Healthy foods: (more towards locally grown and organic, if possible)
fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, fish, poultry
Essential daily supplements: Omega-3 fish oil, probiotics, vitamin D, B-complex:
Good supportive bed and pillow
Good shoes/sneakers, with custom orthotics
Good ergonomic computer desk-chair-keyboard and mouse, monitor risers, foot-rests, arm rests
Chiropractic adjustments and health coaching(1-2 times/month)
Occasional weekend get-aways, nights out, etc.
Ongoing education: classes, dvd’s, books, meditation/guided imagery cds, etc.

When you budget for, and invest in your health, the costs will be somewhat offset by eliminating wasteful spending on disease producing habits, by seriously limiting or cutting back on:

Processed foods and baked goods
Fast foods and snacks
Eating out as often
Sodas and juices

In addition, you may be eligible for:

Insurance policy premium discounts for healthy people.
Refunds on gym memberships.
Discounted rates on life insurance policies.

The greatest $aving$ will come from not getting sick or developing serious diseases. Saving untold thousands, or even tens and hundreds of thousand of dollars in:

Doctor visits: deductibles and co-pays
Surgeries, diagnostic procedures, emergency transport and hospital stay co-pays.
Co-pays and/or percentages of costs for prescribed medications and medical devices
Cash outlays for over the counter medications
Risk rating fees tacked on to insurance costs for high risk/poor health
Lost time from work due to illness
Losing your job due to illness
Lost opportunities due to illness and untold wasted and lost time pursuing care.
Break-up of families due to emotional, financial and physical stressors associated with repeated or major illnesses.

If you think you don’t have the time, don’t want to make the effort and can’t afford to spend the money it takes to get and stay healthy, what makes you think you will have the time, will be able to make the effort, and will have the vast sums of money it costs to be sick?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disease Mongering

The Onion does it again! This is a great parody of BigPharma's incessant disease mongering (the medicalization of everyday life and the selling of sickness: such as, erectile dysfunction, restless leg syndrome, etc.).

(Note: if you are sensitive to foul language or swearing, or if at work or with your children, you may want to skip this blog entry. Otherwise, get ready to laugh!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Health Economics: Part 2

Health Economics
Part 2


Medical problems contribute to half of all bankruptcies in the US.

Every 30 seconds in the United States, someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem. Each year, 2 million Americans face the double disaster of illness and bankruptcy”

Shockingly, according to the same study; “three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance.”

Furthermore, the conclusion of that study is that no-one is safe. Or, as one of the study’s authors writes: “We are all one serious illness away from bankruptcy.”

How does this happen? And, will it happen to you?

As the adage goes: “The only constant in life, is change.” Or, as a young guitarist once told me: “If you ain’t gettin’ better, you’re only gettin’ worse.”

The same holds true for your health; you are either moving towards health, or on a trajectory towards disease.

Which way are you headed?

If you take your health for granted, then you are on the road to chronic disease. If you eat a typical American diet; short on fruits and vegetables and high on fast, snack and junk foods, juices and sodas, you are headed towards the medical trifecta of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, with increased risk of stroke and cancer. The same can be said if you drink to excess, smoke or live a typical high stress and/or sedentary life.

These chronic diseases, in addition to causing lives filled with pain, disability and medical bills, are responsible for seven out of every ten deaths in America. These diseases are not genetic and you don’t just catch them. Chronic diseases take decades of unhealthy living to develop. Therefore, they are largely avoidable, as are the expenses associated with them.

In short, if you are not investing the time, effort and money every day that it takes to become, and then stay, healthy; then you had better be prepared to spend way more time, effort and money it takes to be sick. But keep in mind, the studies indicate you can’t afford to be sick, and it might bankrupt you.

The best insurance is to maximize your health, thereby minimizing your chance of major illness. There is no better investment than investing in your health.

You need your health now more than ever to protect yourself and your family from disabling and bankrupting illnesses.

"The greatest wealth is health." Virgil

(Next blog entry: The Obvious and Not So Obvious Costs of Disease)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Health Economics: Part 1

Health Economics 1

We live in difficult economic times. Sadly, one of the first things to be eliminated from both government and personal budgets are expenses related to health maintenance and promotion. 

Then, as we become more depressed, we exercise less, eat even worse and become sicker still.

As Frank Rich wrote in the NYTimes:

"Of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial index, 22 have announced job cuts since October. Unemployment is is up in all 50 states, with layoffs at both high-tech companies (Microsoft) and low (Catepillar). The December job loss in retailing is the worst since at least 1939. The new home sales rate has fallen to its all-time low since record-keeping began in 1963.

What are Americans still buying? BigMacs, Campbells's soup, Hershey's chocloate and Spam--the four food groups of the apocalypse."

As our diet and our health are inextricably linked, it is not surprising to see another related article at

“Shares of some of the drug makers, medical and health care services, pharma and biotech companies have been holding up quite well despite a broad selloff in equity markets. The primary reason which is being seen as helping these stocks is that they are recession proof.”

There is no anticipated shortage of sick Americans seeking drugs, treatments and cures. As baby-boomers and their unhealthy children and grandchildren age, market forecasters see healthcare as a burgeoning and never-ending growth sector. And, they are right. The healthcare tab for the United States in 2006 was $2.1 trillion dollars, an average of $ 7026 per person. That is projected to be $4.3 trillion by 2017, an average of $13,101 per person.

America, the simple truth is: as a people, we are very sick, and we can’t afford the tab. The cost for the insurance (let alone the costs of care, lost employee time for illness, retraining and rehiring, etc,) is crippling large and small businesses, local-state and federal government and individuals.

The answer lies not in treating illness, but in creating and nurturing health.