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Personal Responsibility: Who Really Pays for an Unhealthy Lifestyle?

20131106_responsibility_ERUltimately, we are each responsible for our own healthcare. When it comes to our health, we pay a high price for living an unhealthy lifestyle by falling ill and shortening our lifespan. However, monetarily speaking, it is a different story.

Not only do we pay more for healthcare and life insurance, but by living an unhealthy lifestyle, which may include smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, eating the wrong foods or getting little to no exercise, we contribute to the problem of higher healthcare costs for everyone.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), more than 75 percent of monies spent on healthcare today go toward treating people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

While a small percentage of our population will develop those diseases without high-risk lifestyle choices, it should be noted that it is becoming more prevalent due to factors such as obesity and a more sedentary lifestyle. In fact, the AMA claims that rates of obesity and diabetes have doubled over the past 25 years.

The good news is that the government is taking notice that we have a problem with preventable disease, and leaders are trying to solve that problem. With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more and more healthcare providers have been given what they need to educate their patients about the dangers of living an unhealthy lifestyle.

In addition, the PPACA creates a fund that will sustain further prevention and public health programs through the year 2015 and beyond. What this means is that more and more people at risk of developing deadly diseases will now have the opportunity to learn how to eat right, how to teach their children to make healthy food choices, and how to prevent becoming overweight and susceptible to disease.

In the coming years, we will see more and more insurers offering incentives for living a healthy lifestyle in the way of lowered premiums — and this, in turn, will reduce costs for employers, allowing them to offer better health insurance options to their employees.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in offering healthy meal alternatives to people at an affordable price. There are so many unhealthy choices being offered today by the fast food industry at extremely low costs, it is easy to see why so many Americans are becoming obese.

When you can pick up a complete meal for your family for next to nothing and spend less than a minute at the drive-thru window, the price and convenience is sometimes too tempting to pass up. That is where personal responsibility comes into play.

Yes, it is difficult to work a full-time job, plan, cook and serve meals, but you have the ultimate say in what you are putting into your body and feeding your family members. We can blame everyone else for our choices, but ultimately good nutritional choices are up to us.

Therefore, we can either opt for living a healthier lifestyle or continue down the path toward obesity and disease.

The bottom line is, by living a healthy lifestyle — including eating nutritious meals and exercising on a regular basis — you will cut down on your own personal healthcare costs considerably, and you will be doing your part to help reduce the cost of healthcare for society as a whole.

About the author

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Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a healthcare writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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