The Link Between Money, Health, and Health Insurance
When thinking of the relationship between health and money, health insurance is most likely to come to mind. However, health insurance is not the only connection between health and money. Furthermore, the relationship between insurance and health appears to be dynamic and complex.
Recent research and news items have brought further attention to these topics. President Obama drew further attention to this relationship in his first State of the Union address stating, "I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; and families--even those with insurance--who are just one illness away from financial ruin."
As the President observed, a lack of medical insurance is not the only link between health and money. Following are a handful of interesting connections between health, money, and medical insurance coverage. While none of these are presented as indisputable truths, there may be good evidence to support the connection.
Unmanageable Health Care Bills Are a Primary Cause of Personal Bankruptcies
Unpaid health care bills are cited as a partial cause for the majority of personal bankruptcies in the US. This topic gained attention in the middle of the last decade during the effort to reform bankruptcy laws. While bankruptcy laws were changed in 2005, unmanageable health care expenses remain a problem.
Level of Education Is Strongly Linked to Both Money and Health
While this relationship has been documented in more than twenty years of research, the latest research seems to indicate that higher levels of education is linked to a delay of serious health problems like heart disease and stroke by about ten years.
The Rich Are Healthier Than the Poor
Recent observations have found that the health gap, between the rich and poor, is widening.
Having Health Insurance Preserves Personal Wealth
Although having health insurance may preserves personal wealth, there is evidence that having health insurance does not guarantee financial health. Many who file for personal bankruptcy because of medical bills had health insurance at the beginning of their medical troubles. Additionally, perhaps as many as 1,000 people per year are financially destroyed by improper actions of insurance companies in denying legitimate claims payments.
Consumer Debt Is Related to Health Problems
Although no one suggests that an unhealthy lifestyle causes excessive consumer debt or vice versa, households that tend to lead unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to carry higher levels of consumer debt. Experian, a consumer credit reporting service, reported in its January 2010 member newsletter that during periods of financial hardship health status can plummet along with your credit score. The newsletter quotes Dr. Serani who explains "Chronic stress, which can lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, impaired memory and cognition, lowered immunity defenses, agitation, and depression, and lethargy can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical health."
Most ocredible reports do not indicate a direct relationship between health, money, and medical insurance. In other words, we cannot conclude that financial hardship is the primary direct cause of poor health, or that providing health insurance to more people would improve overall financial stability in impressive numbers. However, intuition may say that there are likely many contributing factors that link our money, health, and health insurance.