A few readers responded to my recent post Is Eating Organic Food Worth the Money? by saying that you can’t put a price on your health. I’ve seen a similar argument come up time and time again in my MonaVie article (For those who don’t know, MonaVie is a juice that people have suggested may give great health benefits – at a price of $32-$40 a bottle – which they get a cut of). It sounds like a pretty straight-forward argument. Shouldn’t our most primary goal be self preservation – to keep breathing, keep healthy? I’m not so sure… and I have spent 18 months writing Lazy Man and Health. I think that as usual, the devil is in the details.
What is healthy?
That is a loaded question. You ask 20 people you’ll probably get 20 different answers. In general many of us know the “eat right and exercise” routine. It’s a good start, and I think if more Americans followed that along with “stop smoking”, we’d see our collective health get a whole lot better. It is my opinion (and perhaps your doctor’s) that unless you are doing things, it doesn’t really make sense to look into other things. You can still eat right without necessarily eating organic. You can still exercise even if you don’t belong to a gym. Oh and don’t forget to take care of your teeth, reducing plaque in your mouth can help your heart.
Money can buy you good health
If you have an extreme amount of money, you can buy yourself a good measure of health. My wife has admitted to looking at Gwen Stefani in the past and thought, “Wow is she in shape!” I’ve looked at Brad Pitt’s six pack and thought the same thing. However, I’m quick to point out that it’s part of their job to look that way. They can pay for a personal trainer, nutritionalist, personal chef, and Jamba Lights with Whey Protein Boosts at Jamba Juice. I think the average person has to really think if they can afford these things. It is my opinion that many can not (with the exception of the Jamba Juice, but that has it’s own Latte Factor).
In addition to the above there are a whole host of things that you could do with a big enough budget. One could buy an water ionizer. Some professional sports players have hyperbaric medicine chambers in their home. Perhaps that could help one’s health. There are probably about another 100 things mentioned in Ray Kurzweil’s Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. A successful inventor like Ray Kurzweil can afford the pile treatments and tests he mentions.
Is there a limit to how healthy I can be?
Perhaps they are even subject to the law of dimishining returns. For instance, as I’ve been working to do 100 pushups, I’ve found that I made great gains in the beginning, but gains have gotten harder to come by. I’d be exstatic if I could run a 6-minute mile. However, I would have no desire to put in the incredible amount of exra work to run a 5-minute mile (if it’s even possible for my body physically).
Medical Bills: The Leading Cause of Bankruptcy
It may surprise you, but medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy from this Harvard Study. I see two paths you can go with this. You can spend your money trying to prevent everything that might physically happen to you. Or you can take reasonable preventative measures and continue to grow your money for the day that you might need it. If you go with the 100% prevention plan, you better hope you’ve got all your bases 100% covered. If something heriditary slips in that you couldn’t prevent, you probably won’t have the funds to get by it. If you take the more balance approached, you might prevent all but a few maladies, but still have the money for treatment later down the line. I can’t say what’s right for you, but I will choose the balanced approach, that leaves money for treatment down the line.
Like any purchase decision, I think you have to run a little cost-benefit analysis. If I’m already eating lots of good fruit, am I going to get value by spending $5,600 a year for a family of four to drink MonaVie? However, if a doctor says that a enteric-coated baby aspirin can prevent me from getting a heart-attack or a stroke, that’s something I’m going to pick up immediately.
I’ve put a price on my health and it’s very high. Part of that price is investing and amassing enough wealth for treatment tomorrow as it is for today.
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk
Whether you are accumulating wealth or not accumulating wealth it is very important to live a healthy life. It would be a shame that a person accumulates wealth but cannot enjoy the wealth because they are in poor health.
There are three circumstances when you should associate value with your health: (1) When purchasing life insurance to protect your family; (2) When purchasing disability insurance to protect yourself and your family; and (3) when considering how long you expect to live for retirement planning purposes. Everything else is philosophical or spiritual in nature – for a different blog altogether.
It seems to me that health is directly related to time (which is equal to money, is it not?). So there are two ways to achieve health: (1) pay lots of money for medications and food or (2) take the time to be healthy by cooking beneficial meals and exercising.
I think I am going for the second option because healthy eating is relatively cheap, commuting in a healthy was is very cheap (bike commuting), and cooking healthy and tasty meals is fun. If I made a million dollars a year you might get a different answer from me, but for now this seems to work for me.
Health is just like money, if you stick with the tried and true basics you’ll be OK. Buying that crap like Mona Vie (I know nothing about it other than it’s expensive as crap) or a water ionizer or all that other stuff isn’t going to make a significant difference for the guy who is eating Big Macs and getting zero exercise each day. :)
Korprit Zombie says
it has taken me years and knowing several ‘health nuts’ to learn how to eat healthy for a decent price. there really are MANY ways to cut down on the prices of organic foods.
one that i am currently subscribing too is basically a ‘share’ system that delivers a box of organic foods to your door every week. for the price of 150$ we (two of us) often have more food than we can eat. thats a REALLY cheap food bill and its all organic.
there are ways to eat healthy and make it cheap. you just have to look.
I’m pretty big into health fitness and training, so maybe I am a bit bias, but… I’d just like to say that if a person works on health and athleticism mostly for a price tag… he or she probably won’t get that healthy or athletic.
I’ve found a decent balance between health and money as far as food and exercise. What I struggle with is how much my health is worth in terms of medical care. I’ve had a spat of bad luck + bad genes this summer. The net result is that I’ve already spent $1,000 this year in prescription co-pays ($25) and doctors co-pays ($15). I’m stuck in a prescription drugs arms race being advised to take 2 more prescriptions (a grand total of 5) and a chiropractor who insists on seeing me once a week. The prescriptions and doctors visits will make me feel better but I already feel pretty good. (Well, good now that I stopped taking the pill that necessitated the 2 new prescriptions – no it wasn’t a critical medicine but it’s side effects were.)
So I struggle with how much my health worth. I don’t make a huge salary. I can’t afford 5 prescriptions when 2 work well, if not perfect. And really after 4 months of chiropractic care, is it really necessary to be in there every week when I feel just fine most days, especially since my insurance won’t cover more visits. I am just not willing to send myself into bankruptcy chasing an ideal of perfect health. As long as I’ve got the energy to lead my life and my asthma is controlled enough that I can run 4 days a week, that is healthy enough for me.
Lazy Man says
Yikes Aimee, I’m sorry to hear that. I think this is one of the reasons that why I don’t go crazy buying unproven things like super juices. I want to save my money so that I can afford a few thousand dollars a year if I need to.
If you can run 4 days a week, you are going to be healthier than most. I think many doctors would agree that that plan along with eating right will help you stave off health-care bankruptcy unless your genes are much worse than they sound. If that’s really the case, maybe you can hold out long enough until scientists can fix your genes :-).