Why I Should Get Paid $$$ to be Healthy

Real hard cash for everything healthy you do. How we plan to make this a reality.

cc: Flickr

Why should I pay more if we both are buying the same thing. Its un-economical, un-American and just down right silly. This is what is happening in healthcare today. Healthy and unhealthy people are paying the same for healthcare. It would be like if a driver with 10 speeding tickets and 5 accidents paid the same for auto insurance as a driver with a clean record. It doesn’t make any sense. The problem is you can live without auto insurance but you can’t live without healthcare. In addition, there are real costs that healthy insured people pay for those who are non-insured. You can avoid a bad driver on the road, but not a global health epidemic. That logic changes the way we need to approach the issue.

The cost of being unfit can be calculated, at least to get us where we need to go. Let’s look at the statistics:

  1. Type 2 Diabetes costs American’s over $322 billion dollars each year.
  2. Over 100 million American’s have diabetes and pre-diabetes
  3. $1 of every $5 in healthcare is spent on diabetes and that number climbs to $1 of every $3 when you look at medicare.

What’s even worse about this issue, is that it is largely preventable:

  1. Losing 7 to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
  2. Being obese makes you 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight.

But type 2 Diabetes is just one factor in this cost scenario. Let’s examine another — over 1/3rd of Americans don’t get their recommended amount of physical exercise. That’s over 100 million people — seeing a correlation here? It gets even more important when you consider that regular physical exercise helps prevent premature death, cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, colon and breast cancers, depression and of course type 2 diabetes. There is even research that suggests that 22 diseases and conditions were directly linked to the lack of physical activity.

If we were try to add up the costs of all of those health issues, the numbers might get absurd, so let’s stick to the facts. A recent study showed a lack of exercise costs the world $67.5 billion and 5 million lives a year. These numbers are stunning. They are wasted costs that are consuming the health industry and they likely are a major reason why Americans pay more per year for health coverage than any other developed nation. We are being strangled by our health costs, so what can we do about it?

There are a number of ways to solve this issue: provide better health information, remove unhealthy products from the market, or take an economical approach. Let’s explore that route.

There are two economical approaches to fix this problem.

  1. Tax unhealthy people OR
  2. Provide incentives for healthy people

Taxing unhealthy Americans could work, but it ignores socioeconomic and maybe even moral issues. Taxing individuals that don’t understand health inputs or are who are unable to afford a healthier option is the wrong thing to do. Providing incentives will immediately reward healthy people and more importantly it will change behaviors for unhealthy individuals. What is better motivation than cold hard cash? Most importantly, over time this will create more healthy behaviors in the US, resetting the baseline and ultimately lowering health costs for everyone.

Let’s take a truly American approach to solving our health problem

Changing health behavior has been nearly impossible, especially when lower priced unhealthy foods are readily available, with no cost alternatives for most Americans. Our economic approach will re-align our health approach faster than any other method. Using this approach, within a generation, we will see a complete reversal of health thinking and the fast food lifestyle. American will be healthy once again, and it only costs us a few bucks. Incentives are a way to get to our solution fast and reliably.

The biggest hurdle yet to overcome is how to automatically track health. There needs to be an easy way to track all of your health inputs so you can showcase the effort, energy and lifestyle choices you are taking to be a healthier person. Wearable data is helping here, but with so much manual reporting the ability to manipulate that data is a major problem. Check out Corevity in a few weeks and we will be ready to help you solve this issue.

Now we come to the tough questions, how much should you get paid to be healthy? We know the cost of being unhealthy is costing the US over $300 billion dollars each year. With a population of over 30o million people in the US, that’s roughly $1,000 per person. It might be a bit egregious to give each person that allocation, so let’s cut it in half to around $50 per month, or ~$600 per year of cold hard cash. Combine that with the idea that in the future you could receive lower health care costs and this could have a significant impact on your lifestyle and bank account — for doing what you already do! And why not, let’s reward people for working hard to stay healthy.

  1. Diabetes and pre-diabetes cost the US over $338 billion each year
  2. Eating excess sugar is like freebasing a drug. It will kill you
  3. Being lazy will kill you
  4. To be fair lots of things will kill you, so let’s not get hung up here
  5. Walking 30 min everyday could save your life.
  6. Doctors need to start prescribing walking and eating healthy, maybe more Americans would take notice
  7. Taxing unhealthy people is un-American and wrong
  8. Incentives will completely reverse the current health thinking and the fast food lifestyle in the US
  9. Automatically tracking your health is the key for everything that comes next
  10. How much is it worth to be healthier? $20 a month, $50, $100?

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Imagine what you can do with all of that free money for being healthy!