The ROI Of A Healthy Lifestyle

Happy Couple In The Sun

Let’s talk numbers and weight loss. No, not weight or waistline size, here we’re talking about cost - how much does it cost to be healthy or unhealthy? Can you save money, or even make money, simply by living a healthy lifestyle? 

Breaking down the cost of health

Health has no direct cost. You can’t swipe a credit card and expect to immediately lose those twenty extra pounds, nor can you pay for less blockage in your arteries. Health, however, does have indirect costs that many fail to take into account: reactive and preventative healthcare costs.

Reactive healthcare costs are costs that arise in an effort to treat adverse health conditions. As the term “reactive” suggests, reactive healthcare costs are triggered by need. Take, for instance, a patient who has a heart attack and is in need of coronary bypass surgery to restore blood flow to the heart. The coronary bypass then, is performed as a result of the heart attack, making the surgery itself and its cost reactive.  

Preventative healthcare, on the other hand, is the act of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent health complications in the future. These costs are smaller as they are incremental investments in overall health. For example, consistently buying and eating healthy food shields the body from obesity, one of the largest contributors to heart disease. 

Crunching numbers

So, is it more cost effective to spend money on preventative or reactive care? Let’s take a look at the numbers using the example from above. 

The average coronary bypass surgery in the United States costs $151,271 without insurance coverage. Beyond this cost, a patient who undergoes this surgery must also consider wage loss over the standard 6-12 week recovery period. If a patient is not enrolled in a short term disability (STD) plan, that patient will not be compensated for those 6-12 weeks off the job. 

A patient earning $70,000 per year who takes 6 weeks of recovery time would then suffer  wage losses exceeding $8,000. Even if a patient is enrolled in an STD plan, it’s unlikely that plan covers 100% of lost wages.  

Adding these numbers together, this hypothetical patient’s reactive healthcare approach would cost nearly $160,000. Important to note: this cost does not account for post-surgery procedures, check-ups, or potentially costly complications and/or readmissions.

Now, let's look at preventative healthcare cost. Consider an individual who spends $60 a week ($3,120 annually) on healthy food. The individual in this scenario would have to spend $60 on groceries per week over 50 consecutive years to come even remotely close to the cost of coronary bypass surgery. Nevermind the fact that the individual undergoing coronary bypass surgery will have also incurred food costs over time. 

Bottom line: an unhealthy lifestyle is not just physically taxing, but financially taxing. Taking time to invest in your health while you’re healthy not only increases overall quality and longevity of life, but it also saves money in the process. 

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151 Adams Lane #18
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
(615) 453-8999