You wake up Saturday morning and make yourself an organic smoothie with your high-tech juicer, choking down a blend of premium nootropics, probiotics, and multivitamins between sips of your cleansing drink. You then get dressed for your morning workout, throwing on your favorite pair of Lululemon leggings, Nike sports bra, and ASICS sneakers.
The nanny arrives right on time to watch the kids while you go to Orange Theory or SoulCycle or CrossFit or Hot Yoga.
After class, you get yourself a cold-pressed coffee and go to Whole Foods to do your weekly shopping. There, you make sure only to buy organic fruits and vegetables, hormone-free meat, free-range eggs, alkaline bottled water, gluten-free starches, and Keto-friendly protein bars.
You have your annual checkup at 12 with your favorite doctor at her private practice. Usually, her out-of-pocket cost is around $250, but you have great insurance, so the co-pay is $20. She insists you do a full-panel blood test because you are middle-aged and… WHY THE HELL NOT? You agree because (again) you have great health insurance that will cover all of this.
Even after all that, your day isn’t over. It’s your Saturday and the babysitter has the kids til 6, so you decide to utilize this extra time to get a massage because all the stress and not sleeping has taken its toll on your body. So, you hop on over to that fancy spa all your friends have been telling you about that specializes in reiki and acupuncture. You gladly pay the $100 and make a point to tip because you feel SOOOOO revitalized after the session.
Once home, you relieve the babysitter by paying her a little more than usual because you were late. Then you make a clean, healthy, freshly-cooked dinner for the family, put the kids to bed, polishing off your day with a long bath and a glass of red wine.
Does that sound like your typical Saturday? Because HOLY HELL you are one lucky man or woman if that is the sort of lifestyle you can afford to have. If you could pull off even a FRACTION of those things, you would probably be a fairly balanced, mentally and physically healthy human being.
But a large percentage of the American population is neither mentally nor physically healthy (albeit, how any given person defines “healthy” can be subjective).
Roughly 40% of Americans are obese, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness, about 44 million Americans are uninsured, and 80% of Americans don’t meet the suggested standard of daily activity set forth by the CDC.
The median annual income of a U.S. individual is roughly $32,000, which is startling when you consider how much the cost of basic necessities like rent, food, utilities, and transportation.
The point is that anything related to your health and well-being is no longer categorized as necessities, but “extras” – luxuries only available to those that make a comfortable lifestyle.
Which is INSANE because we’re not talking about having designer clothes or going on vacation to top-resort destinations; we’re talking about taking proper measures to try to safeguard your ability to function as a human being.
The healthcare field as an entirety is rigged against poor people, almost to the point where it would seem like it is purposely set up to kill the less desired members of society.
It’s not a coincidence fast-food is cheap. It’s not a coincidence gym membership and workout gear is pricey. It’s not a coincidence having a gluten-allergy is a condition exclusively reserved for upper-class white people. It’s not a coincidence that specialized medical practitioners like psychiatrists, orthopedists, and endocrinologists don’t accept most HMOs and charge astronomical out-of-pocket fees. It’s not a coincidence that organic produce and “grass-fed” dairy derivatives cost significantly more than their standard counterparts. It’s not coincidental that a bottle of useless Centrum vitamins cost $7 whereas a bottle of food-derived, fancy supplements are 4x more expensive.
Simply put, being healthy is almost exclusively a rich person luxury.
The good news is that, with more access to education and information, even the most financially-strapped among us can take measures to protect our health. We can utilize the great outdoors for activity instead of joining expensive gyms. Health-oriented grocery chains like Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s offer more reasonably-priced foods. Preventative medicines like vaccines and flu shots are offered for free in most hospitals and drug stores. And a more competitive, third-party seller industry allows many people to find vitamins, exercise equipment, protein shakes, and beauty products at low prices.
The bad news is that the financially-struggling among us will probably always be more susceptible to obesity, heart disease, addiction, untreated mental health disorders, and generally sub-par health because of the healthcare system.
And, until we can accept that health isn’t a luxury but a necessity, nothing will probably change this reality.