Opportunity costs in health and healthcare
The decisions we make regarding our health revolve around such values as convenience, financial cost, and tradition. We learn a lot of things from role models; I learned to brush my teeth twice a day, but I also saw from my parents that eating fast food was okay because my mom would buy it for me when I was a child. We are considerably set in our ways… It can be difficult to change your routine. It's definitely possible to, for instance, get some exercise into your day, but many choose not to because they worked too many hours and don’t have enough time; they value making money, spending time building a resume, etc. to consider exercise important enough to do. The convenience factor is something many Americans value because they’d rather eat what’s in front of them than check the store around the corner, or the health food store.
For every “bad” choice people make regarding their health, there is a better one that can be made, or better consequences that could arise. Many people don’t have health insurance (45 million, about) because it costs money, or because they don’t understand how important it is. They may think they’re saving money by not paying monthly, but in the end, if they get seriously injured, it could cost tens of thousands of dollars. I really want health insurance, so I am willing to face opportunity costs by continuing to take classes so I can stay under my parent’s health insurance, or finding jobs that I may not totally enjoy but that offer health and dental.
Because there are so many choices we can make as far as our health goes, that means there are also a wealth of opportunity costs, and at various levels. For all of the money that people pay for healthcare, there could be money for vacations and other luxuries, or even activities that can truly help prevent health problems from the start, like better air filters or vacuums to prevent or alleviate asthma and allergies.
There are certainly alternatives to regaining health, but there are several barriers. For instance, many people just aren’t aware of the facts about health; they may not know that what they eat is bad, or that the exercise they’re trying is really not effective. I also personally believe that doctors and drug companies are a big part of this because I think that people are overdiagnosed with diseases and conditions that really don’t exist or that are exaggerated (back to the “disease-care system” concept). I remember watching a commercial for a drug that can help middle-age guys that feel stressed out from everyday pressures… It sounded like any middle-age man could have qualified to take it! Every person who would take such a drug makes for more money for drug companies and doctors. If people get that mindset, they’ll keep thinking they have a condition that there’s a drug for, and they’ll keep going to their doctors and paying for appointments, then pay for drugs and keep paying for the prescriptions. Eek.
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