There is an unfortunate scenario I run into all too often at my pharmacy counter. A patient comes in—newly discharged from the hospital following a heart attack or leaves their doctor’s office with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes—and stands at my counter in shock at the price tag on their new diagnosis. Oftentimes, they are in complete disbelief that yesterday all they took was the occasional aspirin and today they are being instructed on how to take multiple prescriptions daily. As I stand there explaining how to manage their new medication regimen, I can sense how overwhelmed they can become. What I don’t tell them is that the copays they are paying at my counter are only a fraction of the costs of their new chronic health condition. Unfortunately, the costs add up to much, much more.
It seems as if the prevalence and cost of chronic health conditions are always increasing. In 2016, the American Heart Association estimated 121.5 million Americans had some type of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or history of stroke.1 That same year, the average patient with heart disease spent $16, 459 on their health care.2 In 2017, the American Diabetes Association estimated that more than 30 million Americans had diabetes and were spending 2.3 times more on their healthcare than a patient without that diagnosis, on average $16,752 per patient that year.3
Looking at these numbers, I cannot help but wonder if the old saying holds true: Is an ounce of prevention really worth a pound of cure when it comes to your health? Health care professionals are constantly proposing that healthy lifestyle changes can slow the progression of chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and might even be able to prevent chronic disease if implemented early.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices You Can Start Doing Today
So what changes can you make to positively impact your health without negatively impacting your wallet?
The cheapest and most effect change you can make is to exercise. Current recommendations say 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week provides health benefits and reduces your risk of developing a chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease.4 So for example, this means 20 minutes of brisk walking every day could help control your weight, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, improve your blood sugar, and maybe even help you sleep better all without costing you a dime.
Secondly, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding sugary drinks, sweets, and highly processed foods can also help you meet your health care goals.5 Making healthier choices when it comes to your food is more affordable than you might think. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that healthier diet patterns cost each person only about $1.50 more per day.6
Filling Nutritional Gaps with Quality Supplements
Finding the right combination of supplements can also help fill any nutrient gaps. Persona’s personal assessment takes into account your diet and medications and makes recommendations based on nutrient gaps and deficiencies specific to you.
With health care costs continually on the rise, the cost of a healthy lifestyle appears cheaper every day.
1.) The American Heart Association News “Cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of American adults, statistics show.” 31 January 2019. Accessed 11 June 2019. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/01/31/cardiovascular-diseases-affect-nearly-half-of-american-adults-statistics-show
2.) Peterson Kaiser Health System Tracker “Spending by Diagnosis” Accessed 11 June 2019
3.) The American Diabetes Association “The Costs of Diabetes.” 22 March 2018. Accessed 11 Jun 2019. http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html
4.) American Heart Association “Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids.” 18 Apr 18. Accessed 14 June 2019
5.) American Heart Association “What is a healthy diet? Recommended serving infographic” 2016. Accessed 14 June 2019.
6.) “Do Healthier Foods and Diet Patterns Cost More Than Less Healthy Options? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Mayuree Rao, Ashkan Afshin, Gitanjali Singh, Dariush Mozaffarian, BMJ Open, December 5, 2013. Accessed 14 June 2019.