The United States spent over 2.3 trillion dollars on health care related costs in 2008, which translates to about $7,681 per resident! Those numbers are staggering and rising rapidly. An estimated 8 out of 10 dollars spent on health care is on diseases that are preventable. There is much heated debate on this issue in Washington and amongst 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.I saw an Illinois congressman by the name of Aaron Schock on the Today Show and he was interviewed for a piece he did in Men’s Health Magazine. Congressman Schock is taking lead on raising awareness on the health care crisis and the responsibility we all have in reducing health care costs. This young congressman is challenging Americans to sign up for the Fit for Life Summer Challenge to help Americans drop 10-30 pounds by Labor Day!There is more and more data that suggest that people who live healthy lifestyles contribute to saving health care dollars. 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.I personally benefited from working in the health care industry for many years and was exposed to ongoing health management training before it was as common as it is today. This foundational training helped me to develop healthy 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.
What Can You Do?
- Get a physical – contact your physician and get an age-specific health screening.
- 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?
photo by: zoetnet