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Monday, April 30, 2012

Impact Of Lifestyle On Health Care Costs


Obama’s presidency brought the issues of health care to the forefront of the American awareness. Health care cost is one of the aspects of the issue that is the most talked about. The rising prices of health insurance premiums, along with the fine print of restrictions, are making it near impossible to make the cut or afford to be healthy. However, a lot of these constraints are our own fault. Complacency and a lack of self-control have driven health care cost up.



Insurance companies consider the severe health risks of issues like stress, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, cholesterol, and adjust their terms accordingly. Expensive health care is the consequence of America’s poor lifestyle choices. The worst of these problems is a lack of exercise and good nutrition that have led to a nationwide epidemic of obesity. Fat and unhealthy individuals dig their own health care cost graves. Many people are too lazy, full of excuses, or simply don’t care.



Consider these staggering statistics: in 1991, there were only four states with obesity rates of more than 15% of the population. Within 21 years, all 50 states had surpassed those percentages, making the U.S. the fattest nation on the globe. The South, with its greasy, all-American, gravy-laden comfort foods is home to the 10 fattest states, which include Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas.



But if Americans as a whole were to make simple lifestyle changes (to reflect those statistics of 1991), the country would save $1 trillion per year. Some proactive businesses are taking positive steps towards improving the situation with their employee wellness programs that encourage health and fitness.



The incentive is reduced medical insurance premiums that result in more affordable health coverage. Several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, have already seen excellent results and have reduced their morbidity and obesity rates while keeping health care costs level.



Choosing a healthy lifestyle is about more than wanting to look and feel good. Making the effort to finally quit smoking, get to the gym a few times a week, and pass up on McDonald’s for lunch can positively affect your bank account, too. Learning how to slow down in life and employing better coping mechanisms for stress can also improve things like high blood pressure that can affect your health insurance costs.



The solution to the high health care cost is in the public’s hands. The government cannot force people to exercise, improve their nutrition, or practice better stress management. However, these lifestyle changes would improve the health and wellbeing of individuals through exercise and nutrition. Unfortunately, until America collectively rouses from its sugar-induced coma, everyone will continue to suffer from the poor lifestyle choices of the masses.

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