“Health care” is the largest expense U.S. businesses have today. The way most of Americans currently approach their health it is definitely an expense. The investments of today appreciate while the expenses will depreciate. For example, if you buy a car for $10,000 today it will lose its value very quickly – this is an expense. If you buy anything that loses value with time it is an expense. If you have health insurance, you or your company pay an average of $8,000/year for your health care – really for your insurance and not anything but that. Somewhere along the line we confused having insurance with being healthy. This approach to health should be viewed as an expense because it does not accrue any value. In fact the U.S. approach to healthcare is not only the world’s most expensive, but dollar for dollar the worst. Think about the model we use: we pay a third party (the insurer) so that they can invest this money, which used to be your money or your company’s money and earn huge returns (see health insurance profits) and than they may pay the doctor or hospital with your money.
Here is a better model. Imagine if every company or individual were using those dollars to invest in their health. You go to a health club (investment) eat healthy (investment), see a wellness based Chiropractor (investment), buy bottled water (investment), learn great time and stress management (investment). If we followed this model- would our health insurance costs go up or down? Do we still need catastrophic coverage in this model? Yes- in fact with this model the care at hospitals and emergency based care centers will improve – less people are coming in with non- traumatic emergencies in this model.
In his book “The Wellness Revolution“ economist Paul Zane Pilzer, says, “Wellness is not about a fad or trend, it’s about a new and infinite need infusing itself into the way we eat, exercise, sleep, work, save, age, and almost every other aspect of our lives.”
Pilzer succinctly articulates the difference between sick care and health care: “The sickness business is reactive. Despite its enormous size, people become customers only when they are stricken by and react to a specific condition or complaint…the wellness business is proactive. People voluntarily become customers — to feel healthier, to reduce the effects of aging, and to avoid becoming customers of the sickness business. Everyone wants to be a customer of this earlier-stage approach to health.”
When we sit down to figure out our budgets, we must ask ourselves the right questions as to what is an expense and what is an investment. Health care- the actual care and how we take care of ourselves is surely an investment and not an expense!