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  • Economics of Health ~ Just Makes Good ‘Cents’
  • Elizabeth Wasserman
  • conscious consumerhealth & wellness
Economics of Health ~ Just Makes Good ‘Cents’

“It’s just too expensive.”

This is one of the biggest excuses keeping people from making healthier choices in their lives. We get it. We’ve all had that moment in the grocery aisle debating whether our tight budget could spare a few extra bucks to go green, organic, or non-toxic.

When you factor in the long-term costs of poor health, however, can you afford not to? Cutting corners may seem like the financially responsible thing to do right now, but all those dollars and cents ‘saved’ could be coughed up in spades paying for doctor’s visits and hospital stays further down the road.

The same holds true on a larger scale. 

It makes good economic sense to invest in both our own health and wellness and that of the population as a whole. Here’s a brief sampling of the ways we all benefit financially from a healthier population:

Business ~ Healthcare is one of the biggest expenses facing businesses in America, comprising 30.5% of all employment compensation costs in 2010. It’s estimated that the US economy loses $344 billion annually in reduced productivity associated with poor health. In order to combat rising health-related costs, many companies have begun offering wellness programs as a way of encouraging employees to make healthier lifestyle choices.

For instance, IBM offers monetary incentives for performing well on health assessments while the state of Alabama charges a $50 monthly premium to employees who use tobacco. As healthcare costs skyrocket, businesses are realizing the economic benefits of health promotion.

Children ~ With developing immune systems, children are most at risk for health problems related to environmental toxins like pollutants in air and water as well as toxic ingredients in household items. Some may doubt the economic significance but environmentally related illnesses in children - specifically asthma, cancer, lead poisoning, and developmental disabilities - cost $76.6 billion in 2008 alone. We’ve never doubted that exposure to toxins is harmful to our children and should be avoided at all costs, but the astronomical price tag makes it clear that toxic pollutants are bad for us all.

Low Income Families ~ Because 60% of bankruptcies in the United States are a result of medical bills, it is definitely advisable to invest in a healthy lifestyle. The sad truth, however, is that poor health and poverty work in a vicious cycle. The USDA estimates that 23.5 million Americans live in ‘food deserts,’ which are defined as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.”

These areas are low income and low accessibility, meaning that residents don’t have easy access to a supermarket and rely on fast food restaurants and convenience stores for food, which in turn leads to higher levels of diabetes and heart disease. When a significant portion of our country doesn’t even have access to nutritious dietary options, it becomes a huge problem with nationwide impact. A 2007 study shows that poverty raises U.S. healthcare expenditures by $22 billion annually. Bottom line, we all benefit from ensuring that proper nutrition is not a privilege.

Good health is an investment we can’t afford to postpone.

By discouraging the use of toxic ingredients and promoting the availability and accessibility of healthy foods across America, not only will we lift a huge financial burden off the economy but we will also enjoy longer, healthier lives.

Health and hugs,

Liz

  • Elizabeth Wasserman
  • conscious consumerhealth & wellness

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