Getty ImagesA healthy lifestyle can take a lot of work. And for some, it may seem like it takes a lot of money, too. The reality is, however, that living a healthy lifestyle can save more money in the near- and long-term…not only for you, but also for us as a nation.
When it comes to understanding the costs of unhealthy living, we need to look at several aspects. We need to look at our individual lifestyles, our national lifestyles, and the costs that don't always come directly out of our individual pockets. When we do, here is what we find:
- Out-of-Pocket Medical Costs: The less healthy a person is, the more likely she will need to visit the doctor, and in more serious situations, will need medical procedures that can be very costly. Unhealthy lifestyles make up a huge percentage of healthcare costs, and unfortunately, very few of us have a full-coverage insurance plan. As a result, each visit to the doctor…each procedure required…inevitably is money that will need to come out of your own pocket.
- Unhealthy Habit Costs: If you are a smoker, it can put a major burden on your pocketbook. I'll never forget when I was in my early 20s, there was a major campaign in the subways of NYC adding up the amount of money people spend on cigarettes and therefore, could save if they stopped. They often equated the cumulative amount over a year to the price of a vacation. In today's terms, a pack of cigarettes costs about $4. If you consumed a pack a day, it would cost you almost $1,500 a year. Think about the vacation you could take on that! Now remember, the $1,500 is just the cost of the habit, not the cost of the potential diseases or conditions that may become a result of your habit.
- Less Income: The less healthy you are, the more likely you are going to take time off from work. If you are limited to a certain number of sick days a year and you go over that limit, you end up losing potential income as a result. Let's say an individual makes $20 an hour and they get 5 sick days a year. Because they are unhealthy and get sick more often, maybe they actually need 10 days a year. As a result, they take an extra 5 days off for the year. Financially, that would add up to $800 in lost income.
- Healthcare Costs: As we all know, healthcare coverage for our country is a very complicated and costly issue. What's more is that a lot of the cost can be avoided. It turns out that over 70 percent of our healthcare costs are specifically related to lifestyle decisions. In an interview of Dr. Steven Aldana conducted by WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) President Dr. David Hunnicut, the following statistics were revealed:
- The annual healthcare costs specific to obesity-related disease and health issues, all of which are considered preventable, represents about $150 billion or about 12 percent of our healthcare costs.
- Smoking-related illnesses account for $96.7 billion in healthcare, or approximately 8 percent of healthcare costs (CDC).
- Sedentary lifestyles account for 15 percent of all healthcare costs. It turns out that only 20 percent - 25 percent of the population achieves the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
- Further, other preventable conditions aside from smoking make up an additional 40 percent of our healthcare costs.
- In total, all of the above is related to 75 percent of our healthcare costs. All of which are linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices, including physical inactivity, diet, tobacco use and other preventable disease. Further, 70 percent of American deaths are attributed to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, all of which can be influenced significantly through lifestyle choices.