Health: It's our greatest asset, so why don't more people invest in it?

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

You've heard the old saying, "You don't know whatcha got 'til it's gone."

Well, I believe this truism applies to our health. It really is our greatest asset. So why is it so hard for many of us who still have our health to work at maintaining it -- or improving it? Who wouldn't enjoy having an athletic physique and more energy and stamina at age 40 or 50, let alone 60 or 90? One would think that this would be motivation enough, but it isn't.

Building up our body's capacity through exercise and fitness while a young or middle-aged adult pays huge financial dividends for us as an older person.

To illustrate the value of health in later life, consider this: A person on Medicare Part D prescription drug insurance who needs the most comprehensive coverage available pays about $100 per month in 2008. What will that be when the 40-somethings retire in 20 years? Don't answer that. I don't really want to know.

As a middle-aged woman, I am well aware of the benefits of a strong, healthy body. I also know that being physically fit today will help me be financially healthy 30 years from now.

What is it going to take to motivate baby boomers  (which includes me, too) to work on improving their physical health as they grow older?

Would we do it if the reward was lower health care costs?

Comments

Anonymous

Well Sue, I felt sorry for you so I thought I would post. Here we have yet another hit topic from you. I mean, look at all the comments you have here and this has been up for a day now. Gee Sue, you sure can write an excellent blog! I don't think this great topic will make the top ten list...

Anonymous

guess what nobody can afford it, GOOFY

Anonymous

From the blog: 'Would we do it if the reward was lower health care costs?'

Reads like an incentive trap. There are far too many individuals who are not health conscious that the negative factors will greatly overwhelm the positives.

IMO, being health conscious should pretty much be its own reward.

The inertia of either helpful or non-helpful habits is an extremely difficult force to overcome. There are however habit-forming techniques that one can practice.

It’s been said that to form a new habit that one should consistently practice a new behavior for a minimum of twenty-one to thirty days. Having on occasion practiced the technique, I can write that more-often-than-not this is true.

For me, after years of practice, it’s harder not to work out and eat nutritionally than it is to do the opposite. That is a reasonable definition of a habit.

Gulliver

IN RESPONSE TO REAL NAME: I'm paying over 500.00/month. I don't exercise or eat like I should. I'm normal weight. I'm almost 50. I know I would change my lifestyle if I had to go through an annual bloodwork and a fitness test would prove I am paracticing a healthy lifestyle in order to keep my insurance.

What if only the fit got low cost/no cost health coverage as part of a universal health care plan and the unfit had to pay a monthly premium. That woudl motiveate me to be more responsible for my health.

Anonymous

Today there are restrictions out there for unhealthy behaviors. Cleveland Clinic and soon Firelands will not hire people who fail a nicotine screen on hire. They are self insured companies who do not want to pay the higher health costs associated with smokeing. I have heard rumors of companies charging a higher premium for those who have a BMI higher than 30, classifing them as over weight. The day will come soon, where the fit will get the benefit of cheaper insurance and te unfit will be charged for their negligence.

Anonymous

sounds like predjudice to me

Anonymous

Charging for poor health is the premise behind Huron's insurance program. It starts with a high deductible that can be credited down by passing various health screenings. It is a pretty good concept as long as you don't have cheaters with access to prescription drugs.

Anonymous

Come on Sue, you can do better. Can't you?

Anonymous

Gulliver:

Insurance at $6K annually – yikes.

Are you eligible for a high deductible plan and a health savings account?

Unfortunately, the almost inevitability of universal health insurance in the U.S. will spread the risk as well as the costs, a healthy lifestyle will not result in costs savings.

Sixty-six percent of adult Americans are overweight and half of them are obese. In the future there will most likely be more cases of diabetes, strokes and other diet and health related diseases.

Anonymous

Re Sues Blog:

Got something other than criticism to contribute?

So how’s your lifestyle? Are you a health nut, a couch potato or somewhere in-between?

Anonymous

I have no comment.

Rick Studer

Re Sues Blog is a sad, lonely creature. She feels life has passed her by. Waiting for the phone to ring, checking her email, spending lonely nights watching the blogs. Lamenting love gone wrong on divorce.com, hating on local bloggers yet dreaming she too could be a successful blogstress. Don’t hate Re Sues Blog, feel sorry for her, this headless thinker, riding the Sleepy Hollows of the Internet, ask not who she comes for, she comes for you… (nice job with the punctuation RSB)

Gulliver

TO Real Name: I thought my insurance was decent compared to an acquantence who is early 60's, DOES have diabetes and IS overweight. His monthly premium is $1,500.00/month health insurance premium. (He buys it himself -- he is unemployed and hopes to hold out until age 65... Medicare age) He can't afford the health insurance, but he can't afford NOT to have it. I wonder what it would be if he was not over weight and didn't have diabetes.

Rick Studer

WOW, $18,000 a year for health insurance. I wonder if Gulliver’s friend receives that much health care a year. I’m curious if in fact he is actually self-insured, paying all his medical expenses, through his insurance company, minus their cut of course. He’s also buying peace of mind in case something catastrophic occurs, I realize that. But in reality if that occurs, the insurance company will probably fight tooth and nail to deny, reduce or delay that additional help.

If anyone is interested here is an informative web site at the “Socialist” organization NPR.ORG called “Health Care for All”. If you want to see how health care is handled in other countries give it a look. I also recommend it to the Republicans; after all, you’re paying for it…

http://www.npr.org/templates/sto...

Just paste this in your browser…

Anonymous

Want socialized medicine?

Close every single foreign U.S. military base, mothball most of the Navy, get out of NATO and the other mutual defense arrangements, and use those monies to help fund universal health care in the U.S.

The developed countries of Europe and Asia can afford nationalized medicine for their citizens in no small part because American taxpayers are helping to fund their military defense to a great degree.

When European and Asians have to fund their own defense, their tax burden will increase and their 'free' health care will become increasingly rationed. Quality socialized medicine is largely the product of smoke and mirrors.

It's either guns OR butter. A nation can't have both in any quality or quantity for long without eventually going bankrupt.

'There's no such thing as a free lunch' - Milton Friedman.

Anonymous

Gulliver: You're unemployed buddy reads like he might be better off on Medicaid.

Gulliver

INTERESTING COMMENT - Guns or Butter! HHHHHmmmmm. Now that's something to think about. (I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.)

So would the unaffordability still hold true if those who would be insured (and yes, I do realize this is pollyanna thnking) consisted of a large majority who were aerobically fit, agile, and had good muscular strength? I suspect physical qualities would reduce the incidence of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes,accidents attributed to falling (due to poor balance & leg strength)- all are common in 50+ age group.

I think the bigger question is how do we motiviate people (I'm still trying to figure out how to motive myself on this matter, as well) to make fitness priority. Ultimately, I believe we will see tha day when the physically fit will be the only ones who will have access to affordable health insurance. The unfit won't.

I appreciated the commens. Thanks!

Rick Studer

I have to respectfully disagree with you “Real Name”. America is not bankrolling the world’s militaries. In fact America is making money off of other countries by selling our own military hardware. In a lot of cases the host country doesn’t even want us there. Saudi Arabia; maybe the royal family. Iraq? Sure… Germany, France, England, how much are we really spending over their?

Your premise that their health systems will collapse without American aid is ridiculous, those afore mentioned countries value their health systems and will protect them, regardless of what America does.

Guns or Butter? Old school cold war thinking. We don’t need to spend money on “big war” planning. They’re couldn’t be a WWI or WWII now. We’d have used nukes on Hitler if we would have had them in time. Now wars are regional outbreaks that are usually self contained and over in a short period of time; exceptions being the invasion of Iraq, which by the way, is still a regionalized war.

America needs to take the insurance companies out of the mix. Sure, we would lose some jobs, just like in manufacturing. But I’m sure the insurance salesman could get jobs at Wal Marts or fast food places. When it comes to ones own health, do you consider profit and loss, your insurance man does.

Do you know that the Republicans fought hard to prevent Social Security from being formed by Roosevelt. If left to them we would not have that program now. Would we better of without Social Security? I don’t think so, do you?

Here’s a few facts:

A total of $21 billion in arms sales agreements were signed from September 2005 to September 2006, compared with $10.6 billion in the previous year, according to new data compiled by the Pentagon. Foreign military sales agreements have typically ranged from $10 billion to $13 billion a year since 2001.
http://www.commondreams.org/head...

Yale Economist William Nordhaus discusses Excessive Military Spending in the US in a paper for the American Economic Association. According to his calculation, the US spent $500 billion for defense in 2005, as much as the rest of the world put together. Nordhaus concludes:

http://atlanticreview.org/archiv...