2017-10-12 / Opinions

Guest VIEWpoint

The cost of health

Laura Janks Laura Janks The Affordable Care Act went into place in 2010, as a means to help more individuals obtain health insurance. As a result, many low-income individuals are now able to get Medicaid. This form of insurance serves the blind, disabled, youth and elderly individuals, as well as those who are low-income.

Having access to insurance means that people can see their primary care doctor regularly and fill needed prescriptions. While access to insurance is crucial, this does not mean that individuals in poverty have the same opportunities when it comes to healthcare.

Studies show that the richer you are, the healthier you are and, unfortunately, the poorer you are the sicker you are (Bridges Out of Poverty Strategies for Professionals and Communities, By: Phillip DeVol, Ruby Payne, and Terie Dreussi Smith, 2014).

Poor health can be both a cause and a consequence of poverty.

All too often medical conditions can cause financial hardship. Costs of transportation to and from appointments can add up quickly, as well as the cost of prescription medication. Combine these costs with missing work to attend appointments and finances can quickly become a struggle. A report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests that as many as one in five individuals have medical debt on their credit report (U.S. News & World Report).

Unfortunately, injury and disease can also disable hard-working individuals. Becoming disabled can be financially devastating, even if you are one of the 33 percent to be approved for financial disability benefits. These benefits can be very helpful in making ends meet, but they rarely are equivalent to the wage a full-time employee makes in a month.

On the flipside, poor health can also be a consequence of poverty. Many times, individuals in poverty put off going to medical appointments because they cannot afford to miss work. Not seeking medical attention when warning signs start can be the difference between heartburn and heart attack. The types of food we consume impact our health as well. If an individual has limited funds for food they are more likely to purchase processed food because you can get more for your money. In addition to limited funds, access and transportation to grocery stores can make healthy eating challenging.

Additionally, the lifestyle of individuals in poverty is almost always very stressful. The demands of balancing low wages, high bills and instability in general can lead to stress related diseases. Examples of stress-related diseases include heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety and numerous other illnesses. Under resourced individuals are also more likely to smoke cigarettes, which can lead to an array of health problems as well.

If you are struggling financially due to poor health or are experiencing poor health as a result of financial struggles, I encourage you to visit Community Connections in Harbor Beach. We are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays to help individuals meet their food needs, find employment, enroll for services such as food stamps and Medicaid, find stress management services and more. Walk-in or make an appointment by calling 989- 479-0346.

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