The United States spent a staggering 2.9 trillion dollars on health care related costs in 2013, which translates to about $9,255 per resident!
According to a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Institute Report, “The United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually to treat preventable illnesses and diseases. For instance, health care expenditures tied to smoking total $96 billion. Costs associated with conditions caused by obesity include more than $43 billion for hypertension and nearly $17 billion for diabetes.”
There is an ongoing debate on this issue in Washington and among employers who are struggling to interpret and implement changes in policy due to health care reform. Everyone wants good health care but no one wants to take responsibility for it or pay for it.
So what to do?
Employers are investing in wellness programs to help educate employees on the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices and are offering incentives for employees to get involved in managing their health. The hope is that this type of education over time should begin to affect the health of our culture.
People who live a healthy lifestyles do contribute to saving health care dollars. A 2010 Harvard Wellness Program Study reveals that “Medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.”
I worked in the health care industry for many years and personally benefited from ongoing wellness training. This experience helped me to develop healthy lifestyle habits that I have maintained to this day.
I didn’t realize how uncommon this kind of training was until I left the health care field and began speaking to people in other industries. The most basic wellness information that was ingrained in me was very foreign to others.
With the current health care crisis, more and more attention is being paid to employee health because of the part each and every one of us plays in improving the health of our culture and controlling the out-of-control health care costs.
It is our responsibility as parents, children of older parents, employees and employers to educate ourselves and use that knowledge to positively influence others.
7 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health
- Get a physical – contact your physician and get an age-specific health screening.
- If you have a chronic health condition, take your medications as prescribed.
- Participate in your employer sponsored wellness program.
- Learn about healthy eating and improve your eating habits.
- Consult your physician and begin an exercise program.
- Find a health partner to encourage you and hold you accountable.
- Monitor your progress over time. There is nothing like data over time and the benefit of watching weight numbers go down or exercise time and distance go up!
Changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle is very liberating and allows all of us to be able to do more. I don’t know about you but I’m in this for the long haul and keeping fit is one way I can be sure to have the strength and energy to pursue what life has to offer.
How different would the United States be if all of its citizens did their part to live a healthy lifestyle and the dollars spent on health care covered health issues that were not self inflicted?