The concept of health is increasingly viewed as a form of wealth, with implications that can be quantified financially. Despite advancements in healthcare, people spend a significant portion of their lives in less-than-good health, leading to substantial costs in treating chronic age-related diseases. In this article, Nadine Esposito is suggesting adopting an investment mindset to health, similar to financial planning, which can result in long-term benefits.
Today, the concept of health is increasingly being recognized as a form of wealth. This shift in perspective is not solely philosophical but has tangible, quantifiable implications. To set the scene, let's look into some statistics. A McKinsey report highlights a significant aspect of our lives: the proportion of our lives we spend in less-than-good health has not changed over time despite advancement in healthcare and medical advancements. On average, people spend about 50 percent of their lives in less-than-good health, including 12 percent in poor health.
Interestingly the situation varies slightly in Switzerland. Swiss men and women spend on average around 14.1 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively, of their lifespan in poor health, also known as the sick span. Given the fact that the lifespan of men and women is Switzerland is one of the highest in the world (81.75 and 85 years, respectively) compared to a global average of 73 years, this results in roughly 10 years of chronic diseases for the average Swiss citizen. A study by the National Council on Aging states that the average costs for chronic age-related diseases are around $30’000 per year. This sums up to $300’000 for the 10 years of sick span per person if the numbers are extrapolated. Despite significant advancements in prolonging the lifespan, as shown by the McKinsey report, our time in good health has not improved as one might think.
We can further note, that the maturity level of a country’s medical system is not a direct indicator for health span. Besides Switzerland with an above average number of years in poor health, also United Arab Emirates can be mentioned as an example for a country with a matured medical system but above average years in poor health.
Looking ahead to the future if we were to live for 100 years and spend the same proportion of that time in poor health, it would mean approximately 14 years for men and 17 years for women in a state of some level of illness. This could result in a cost of $420’000 to $510’000 assuming that chronic diseases have the same average annual expenses. It's important to keep in mind that these figures are simplified and indicative. We cannot predict with certainty how medicine and healthcare will progress in the future since advancements are always being made.
Nevertheless, these numbers serve as an indication to support the idea that an extended period of health can bring about significant financial benefits. Investing in lifestyle changes that prolong the health span can have a financial return in the long run. It's not just about living longer, but about living healthier and reducing the time we spend in poor health.
The Impact of Making Lifestyle Changes
Making conscious changes to our lifestyle can have an impact on how we stay in good health. Engaging in physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and managing stress are all important parts of living a healthy life. These changes can help prevent or delay age related chronic health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. They can also improve mental health, enhance cognitive function, and boost overall quality of life.
The best part is that making lifestyle changes doesn't necessarily require a lot of money. It could involve adjusting our routines, making some modifications to what we eat or simply increasing our activity levels. Yet the benefits we can gain from these changes in terms of health and longer lifespan are quite significant. The power of “only” lifestyle changes reinforces the need to make these consciously and based on research or professional advice to assess if the chosen change is suitable to our overall health condition and current circumstances. Simply copying what is published in magazines or posted on social media should not be the way forward. Here the importance of health literacy comes to play. The more we know about health and healthier choices, the more we can critically assess and challenge new trends. Moreover, this is where the concept of an investment mindset should or could come into play.
The Investment Mindset
An investment mindset is all about long-term planning, risk assessment, and strategic decision-making. It involves doing thorough research, seeking professional advice, and making informed decisions based on that advice. It's about understanding that the decisions we make today will have a significant impact on our future. This mindset, which we often apply to financial matters and medical treatments, should also be applied to our lifestyle choices. Adopting an investment mindset to health and lifestyle choices would mean that we first examine our current situation, challenge the risks the change could have, evaluate the benefits and conclude if we are willing to accept them.
Currently, there is a strong focus on raising awareness for financial literacy to make people even more conscious of their investment decisions. This approach should be adopted for healthcare as well. Health literacy should be enhanced and prioritized, just like financial literacy. Modern technologies should be used to support new business models offering tailored and customized lifestyle suggestions and guidance, akin to customized financial advice.
To conclude, by adopting an investment mindset, it's time we started seeing our health as an investment, one that requires the same level of thought, research, and personalization as our financial investments. By doing so, we can ensure a longer, healthier life, and in the process, secure our financial future. This paradigm shift in thinking about health as wealth will not only benefit us as individuals but will also have positive implications for society as a whole, reducing healthcare costs and enhancing the quality of life for all. By embracing health literacy and leveraging modern technologies, we can create a future where personalized health guidance is as accessible and effective as financial advice, leading to a healthier, more prosperous society.