As America transitions into the policies put in place by the Affordable Care Act, the future of American health care is on everyone's mind. There is anxiety on both sides, all centered around affordability. Costs are too high, there is no doubt. Is this legislation a move in the right direction? Only time will tell.
In my 30 years of training, I have learned that $100 of prevention is worth $100,000 of treatment.
Think about it this way: $100 running shoes, well used, are a good investment if they prevent the need for a $100,000 heart surgery 30 years down the road.
A $100 yoga class is well worth the money if it prevents $100,000 in joint-pain medication later.
Spending $100 more on groceries to get high-quality, nutrient rich food is smart spending if it saves you $100,000 in cancer treatments when you're 70.
Preventative care is always cheaper in the long run, but it looks expensive up-front because we're feeling good. If we're healthy, why should we spend money on health? That is the "crisis" or "treatment" healthcare mindset. Investing in our health is desirable only when the immediate alternative is death or serious lack of function. This leads to late diagnoses, earlier and earlier onset of diseases like arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, and an unsustainable reliance on pharmaceuticals.
What are the benefits of putting health off until it is bad? Time. It takes time to attend yoga twice a week. It takes time to look over the nutrition labels in the supermarket. It takes time to notice subtle mood changes or drops in our energy level. And if there is anything that always seems in short supply, it's time.
But even time is not a real benefit of today's style of healthcare. Healthier people live longer and experience a higher quality of life, so whatever time you save now by skipping your morning workout is time on loan, and older you is going to be the one who pays the balance.
Changing our healthcare system is not something that can be done overnight, even by the President. But if we can take an hour every day and practice a little mindfulness centered around our health, we can change.
Not long ago, avoiding a disease wasn't within an individual's control. Our grandparents didn't have access to nutrition facts, scientifically studied exercise routines, etc.. Now, in the age of information, we have no excuses for treating our health like a game of chance.
Your health is the most valuable thing you will ever own. Be mindful of that wisdom the next time you are making a purchase, and ask yourself, "Is this money better spent on preventative healthcare? Am I doing enough to ensure my health in later years?"