When people are interested in any of our programs, I encourage them to come in for a free 20-minute consultation. We need to make sure we are on the same page in terms of what is involved in attaining their goals in health and weight loss. A large percentage of people that come for a consultation do sign up and start a program, but a lot of people don’t. The reasons vary as to why some choose not to pursue a program. Sometimes it has to do with time or location, but frequently, is has to do with money.
How much is your health worth? It is certainly hard to put a value on it, but without health, we aren’t functional. The basic daily tasks that we are expected to do become difficult, or even impossible, without health. But how much is that worth to you? It’s not always possible to put a monetary valuation on things, but sometimes the cost of health will take a back seat. It often comes down to making a cost-benefit analysis, or trying to see the long term benefits of spending now so I don’t have to spend later. Over the past few weeks, comments by some clients and a few things I saw in health related news, got me thinking.
A brief lesson in economics
Let’s have a little lesson in basic economics. If you have $50 and you enter a store that sells 4 items of $50 or less, you have some choices to make. You can buy one $50 item, two $25 items, five $10 items, or some combination of several items. What one decides to do with that $50 and why is really the basics of economics.
Everyone has some type of budget they live on. What we sometimes forget is that decisions with money that might seem prudent in the short term, may affect us negatively in the long term. Organizations like Mesila, or private coaches like Mrs. Sassen in Beit Shemesh, are well equipped to help with financial planning. Whatever the situation, we need to be sure that we put our money in the best places possible and that health should be a prime consideration.
Spending on “health” items that don’t work
The Harvard Heart Newsletter recently ran a front-page article about dietary supplements questioning their value and also pointing out their potential dangers. Americans spend 37 billion dollars a year on various supplement. Two thirds of that are for vitamins and minerals. The rest are pills, powders, and tinctures that contain various substances isolated from an array of sources—mainly plants but also animals and microorganisms. Why are these products so popular? Some people believe that our food supply has been stripped of important nutrients, so they take supplements to replace what’s “missing”. Others feel that Western medicine relies too heavily on pharmaceuticals and prefer to take natural substances instead.
Unlike drugs, these supplements are not regulated and can be sold and promoted however the manufacturing company wants. The manufacturer can make claims that might mislead the public into believing that simply popping a pill or swallowing a drink will fix all ailments. Supplements all can contain different amounts of active ingredients. Sometimes they have such a small amount it couldn’t possibly be effective for anything. (Some supplements–remember ephedra for weight loss– have even caused death.)
I have met people who don’t want to pay for a dietician to learn how to eat well for health, won’t hire a personal trainer on a short term basis so they can learn how to do basic exercise, or even join a well-run weight loss group or program. Why? Because it costs money! But, when I checked further, some of these individual were spending a lot of money on a monthly basis on vitamins, supplements, and medications. They were spending hundreds of dollars that could have been put towards something that would truly help their health and well-being and possibly even remove the need for medications.
Spending money to get sick
A client of mine in our weight loss program, has done well with her weight loss, although it goes slowly. We have already discussed the possibility of a continuing program as another 10 weeks would really be beneficial to her. However, she told me she really doesn’t have the money to continue. But wait!
We were reviewing her food intake a couple of weeks ago and she told me how many time she ate out that week. That led to a conversation about eating out in general and she disclosed to me that she and her husband eat out several times a week. The levels of fat, salt, and sugar are quite high in the foods being served at restaurants. Eating out frequently is not good for health. My client is actually taking more money than it would cost to continue in our program and putting it toward eating food which is interfering with her weight loss goals!
Cost of healthcare
Some of our readers live in countries where medication is heavily subsidized, while others might live in countries where it isn’t. People in Israel have Kupat Cholim and in England you have the NHS. There is socialized medicine in Canada as well. However, there are times one might need a medication not covered by insurance. This can get very, very expensive.
For those of you who don’t have complete coverage for your drugs, consider the following for a person with typical heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, and multiple medications are often needed to control symptoms and risk factors. In a study following people with ischemic heart disease, average monthly costs were $104.77 for cardiac medications and $115.54 for non-cardiac medications, for a total of $220.31. In addition, the cost of heart disease and stroke in the United States was $316.6 billion in health care costs and lost productivity in 2011.
Investing in health to save money
We know that in the United States a good insurance policy costs a lot of money and that if you don’t have insurance, you need to be wealthy to get good care. So what if I take some of my money from other things and invest it in learning how to lead a healthy life? Even on the monetary front, this is a great investment. If you don’t make this investment you can get sick, and it can end up costing a lot more money later than you might pay now. It is absolutely more effective and cheaper to prevent illness and disease than to try to manage it later. Think about it—is there a better place to put your money than your health and wellness?
Investing in your health will pay off. Think about the money you will save by not buying junk food, not having to pay for medical care, not wasting money on supplements or vitamins, not eating in restaurants, or needing medications. The investment in preventing disease and illness will pay off in long term savings, better health and will “add hours to your day, days to your yea, and years to your life.”