Can you Afford to be Healthy?

Since the Great Depression, there are more people unemployed and as a result, uninsured. According to the Census Bureau, more than 50 million Americans are uninsured. Yet the costs of healthcare and medications continue to rise. People are cutting back on everything, and unfortunately, that includes good health practices, including cost of healthy foods, preventative care, and prescription medications.

The cost of food is rising at an alarming rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers for May 2011 show a climate of continually rising prices across a wide swath of food categories—a tally of 76 items ranging from ground beef to soda to dairy products. Measuring the past month’s performance, the BLS found increased prices on 45 of the items it monitors. But over the past year, the trend is much stronger, with 66 of the 76 items being higher in price. Healthy foods (and exercise) are our best and least costly weapons against disease and illness. The inability to buy healthy foods will be the first step on the road to serious health consequences for many of us.

The least expensive way to battle this specter is to grow your own veggies. That’s right. You can save a bundle, planting and growing a wide variety of foods right in your own back yard, or recruit your neighbors and build a community garden. For more information on how to do it, go to, Frugal Dad or Sustainable Urban Gardens.

Our next best weapon in the fight against illness is preventative care. According to the American Medical Association, the idea of seeing a doctor before you get sick really gained traction over the last decade. The result has been a drastic reduction in illness and injury. But in today’s economy, millions no longer have access to those programs. In fact, The Commonwealth Fund reported that 27 million U.S. women went without health insurance in 2010 due to high costs. And, because they couldn’t afford it, 48% of all women skipped doctor visits, tests, and treatments or didn’t fill a prescription. Men have always been reluctant to take advantage of preventative care, but as the population ages, they are coming around, though the growing lack of access has stymied the trend. However, there are resources available to assist in obtaining affordable and even free preventative care.

In March 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. The overall goal of this legislation was to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare for uninsured individuals and their families. Through the new law, being implemented in phases over the next several years, health insurance will extend to approximately 32 million Americans.

In September 2010, several provisions of the Act went into effect (the remaining provisions will roll out gradually through 2014) and may have an impact on you and your family; these include:

  • Providing access to insurance for individuals with pre-existing conditions
  • Extending coverage for young adults – up to age 26 – on their parents’ plans
  • Providing free preventative care, such as immunizations and mammograms
  • Ending lifetime and most annual limits to care

Many private and public organizations are also offering free access to discount prescriptions available through over 60,000 participating regional and national Pharmacy outlets as well as local independent pharmacies. One of the larger programs offered is through Financial Destinations Inc. In 2010, FDI saved Americans over $7 million via its free discount prescription card, and is on pace to save much more this year. The FDI card is available to anyone, insured or not, and it never expires because it’s not insurance. Some of the benefits enjoyed by those using the card are:

  • Savings of up 85% on most prescriptions and some medical devices at over 60,000 pharmacies!
  • Absolutely NO fees, premiums, or membership dues charged, ever. The FDI Discount
  • Prescription Card totally free!
  • One card covers your whole family. Even some pet medications qualify for a discount!
  • You can give these cards away and actually get paid every time they are used!

There are many other healthcare providers offering similar programs. A couple of very good ones include the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, and Needy Meds

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3 thoughts on “Can you Afford to be Healthy?”

  1. James (@matrix), I enjoyed the article, thank you for the thought and research that went into this! It’s nice to know you are looking out for our health and well-being.

    It was interesting to read the data the BLS released on food cost, that’s not really a topic that I had considered in the past before. Something to think about. It is really hard to eat healthily if you can’t afford it! And it’s those healthy, natural foods that keep US healthy, so what to do?

    I enjoy going to farmer’s markets and try not to buy imported foods so that I can support local, organic farmers, and in turn, I feel good about what I eat too. If I had a green thumb (I can barely keep a fern a live), I would build a backyard garden, it is so fascinating to me! Thanks again for writing this.

  2. I enjoyed very much. Thanks for sharing there was some info that I didn’t know that could help me in many ways.

  3. Thanks Sarah and Renae! I’m really glad you liked my article. It’s so nice to have this forum where both trained and untrained contributors (such as myself) are encouraged to share information and insights and get feedback. If I have helped anyone in any way, I have acheived my goal.

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