11.24.2017

Your health could put your finances in critical condition

Can poor health make you poor? With all the debate that’s been raging around healthcare as of late, it has a lot of us thinking. Even if you’re lucky enough to have never had a serious accident, illness, or a family member who does, you have to recognize that the risk is always there. As it stands, can your finances handle the strain that poor health can bring to it? Here, we’re going to look at some of the very real concerns facing all of us and what we might be able to do about it.

Bad habits cost
It’s not the most major concern, but there’s no denying that some of the blame has to fall on us. We get into habits as a measure of fighting stress or because we’ve been influenced through the years or simply because we want to. However, beyond the costs of the treatment against the potential health issues they bring, our worst habits tend to be some of our most expensive. Nowadays, for instance, the myth that healthy eating has to cost more than junk food has been turned on its head. Alcohol isn’t cheap either. However, the biggest offender by far is a smoking habit, which can often cost up to $2,292 a year. Of course, there are going to be some that smoke more and pay more as a result.
Stress makes us bad with money
We mentioned stress and how it feeds into unhealthy habits, but stress also feeds into some unhealthy financial choices. This stress can come from many places, like raising a child, our job, or even money stress. Studies have shown that stress is a lot more likely to unnecessary expenditures as well as a lack of insight into some of the more sensible uses of one’s money, such as budgeting and setting aside savings. That’s not to say, of course, that we’re entirely out of control when we’re stressed, but it can make it harder to see sense when you’re constantly on edge.

Better health, better earnings
There’s also growing evidence to suggest that healthy people make more. As if they weren’t lucky enough already. There’s a lot of reasons that may be the case, as well. A lack of sick days accounts for some of it, but not as much as you might think. With exercise and a healthy diet limiting carb intake, we feel much more energetic throughout the day and in much more positive a frame of mental health. That enables the motivation and confidence to not only be more productive but to have a better estimate of one’s worth. Confident, happy people tend to negotiate a better salary or benefits package than those who aren’t as fully engaged in their job or have as much self-esteem.
Left footing the bill
We’ve looked at some of the general trends in health that can impact both our balance of expenses, as well as something of a psychological profile as to why mental and physical health can lead to better financial choices. However, now it’s time to look at the real ways in which health can suddenly and destructively impact your finances. Having to pay your own medical bills when you shouldn’t, as well as the time off work, is time and again one of the most common causes of serious debt and bankruptcy. We can all be taken out of work by illness or injury at any time. We need to have precautions such as disability insurance at the ready. This is even truer if we have a family that we’re providing the sole support for. Making room for an emergency fund in the budget might be a wise move, as well. We can’t anticipate that we’re always going to be able to work. If you have the opportunity, make sure that some coverage from your employer is one of your key points when negotiating a benefits package. By ensuring yourself some entitlement to paid sick leave and paid maternity, you can make sure that time off work isn’t going to be the end of the world.

Managing the costs of healthcare
Doctors’ visits and prescription drug prices are becoming unmanageable for a growing number of people in the country. While many of the prices will fundamentally be decided by the regulations in place and the practices of the businesses behind them, we can take some steps to curb them. For instance, by shopping around for insurance and making sure we’re not over-insured or, if you’re on Medicare, using Medigap to make sure you’re not paying significantly more for the treatments not covered by the plan you’re on. We can cut the cost of prescription drugs by buying generic instead of branded, by asking for OTC painkillers or medications when we don’t necessarily need prescriptions, or even by being more careful about when we ask for antibiotics. Finally, make sure you always check your medical bills and that they’re fully itemized. Learn to read them and learn to spot the ubiquitous errors that can end up forcing you to spend more.
Know when help is on offer
You may be entitled to some of the help that’s out there, as well. For instance, if you’re disabled and unable to work, beyond covering yourself with disability insurance, see if you’re entitled to social security payments. You can improve your chances of a successful application by providing as much detail and evidence as to your condition as possible or hiring a disability lawyer. There are grants and funds on local, state, and federal levels to help people undergoing health trouble meet their financial needs, as well. For instance, the Percy Bilton charity, which provides funding for older people and people with mental health difficulties. Asking for help can be hard, but it beats dealing with the increasing difficulty and financial stress that comes with it.
It's a complex question, but it does seem clear that accident, injury, and illness are some of the leading causes of financial stress today. Without preparing for them, you could be the next amongst those whose finances they’ve ruined.

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