The Relationship between Health Behaviors and Finances

Kim Bielenda  Health Solutions Coordinator

Kim Bielenda
Health Solutions Coordinator

This week we are going to discuss how health behaviors/status and finances are related. The first thing I would like to point out is the cost of unhealthy habits. Imagine saving $3,600 annually by just cutting out your $10 a day smoking or junk food habit. This is just an example of the immediate savings, think about the long-term savings too! By cutting out that junk food habit you are likely able to decrease your weight and delay the possible onset of diabetes and/or other health issues.

Secondly, financial problems can affect a person’s health status and vice versa. For example, medical bills can results in physical symptoms of stress or inadequate treatment. While, financial distress can make it difficult to afford routine check-ups. Research states that in 2001, medical problems were found to be associated with about half the cases of bankruptcy.

The third relationship I would like to touch on is the fact people in poor health often die at a relatively young age and spend thousands of dollars (money that could have been invested). These individuals do not live long enough to collect their pension or social security, which they have spent a lifetime working for. I also want to mention the opposite side to this. Individuals who do practice healthy behaviors will likely live longer and will need a large retirement fund to insure they do not out live their assets.

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Below I have listed a few more relationships between health status and finances.

  • Some employers are now requiring employees who smoke to pay higher health insurance premiums than non-smokers. Or they are paying incentives to those who quit.
  • To combat health costs related to overweight and obesity, some employers are providing incentives for weight loss, exercise programs, and access to fitness centers.
  • Rising health care costs have been shown to directly affect household finances. Research reports that individuals had to decrease their contributions to a retirement savings plan as a result of the increased cost of health care.
  • Overweight and obese individuals and smokers typically pay more than others for certain expenses such as health, disability, and long term care insurance. Also, Big and Tall sizes for men and Plus-Size clothing for women are estimated to cost 10-15% more than regular size clothing.

So what does all this information tell us? That health and wealth are strongly related and changes in one area of life can have positive effects on the other!