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The High Cost of Poor Health

Cigarettes are known to cause cancer.  Fast food and junk food from the grocery store is convenient and often cheap, but not very good for you.  Alcohol is another unnecessary indulgence that can lead to health issues. What’s the common theme here?  All of these are optional expenses, and all can do you harm if abused. Plus, if you’re working on debt management, it’s advised to cut out optional expenses.

Overindulging of such desires can greatly increase your health costs.  Non-nutritious foods weaken your immune system.  Sugar and fat raise cholesterol, clog your arteries, and more.  Smoking and alcohol addiction have a long list of consequences that have been well documented.

Credit card debt can be the end result of treating poor health.

Credit card debt can be the end result of treating poor health.

Facts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
  • More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
  • Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.
  • Excessive alcohol abuse can lead to liver disease, as well as gastrointestinal, neurological, social, and psychiatric problems.
  • Alcohol also comes with the risk of accidents caused by impaired judgment and physical abilities.

If you’re unhealthy, you need to go to the doctor.  That costs money.  You may need medicine.  That costs money.  If your illness is serious, then you’ll need to visit hospitals and specialists for treatment.  Those cost even more money.  Not all of this will be covered by insurance… if you have it.  There are copays, prescriptions, etc. You could end up in serious debt.

Cigarettes cost an average of $6.00 a pack in the US.  A pack a day equals $2,190.00 a year.  There are too many options of alcohol and junk food to put one price on, but you can figure out the cost of what you typically purchase.  Unhealthy habits have a high cost now, and an even higher cost later.

Cost of Care:

  • In 2006, Americans spent an estimated $10.3 Billion on lung cancer treatment.  (National Cancer Institute)
  • In 2008, the average cost of lung cancer treatment was $39,891 per person. (US News)
  • Drug and alcohol inpatient rehab centers can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  (Cost varies greatly based on the patient and the facility).
  • The average annual  cost to treat cardiovascular disease in America is $273 Billion. One study estimated that the cost for one person to treat coronary artery disease is $1 Million. (WebMD.com)
  • Diabetes costs Americans an estimated $218 Billion per year. (American Diabetes Association)
  • Patients spend an average of $6,000 a month. (New York Times)

We’ve mainly discussed the monetary costs of poor health and bad habits, but there are even greater costs to consider.  I think you know where this is going.  I’m talking about your life.  Your family.  Your friends.  Be good to yourself so that you can be around for them.  I bet they kind of like having you around.

As we enter a new year, health and finances are often at the top of the list when it comes to resolutions.  There is good reason for that.  Why not combine your efforts by making a resolution to stop unhealthy behaviors, and rid yourself of the costs that go with them?

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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