What do you like to spend your money on? Movies? Clothes? Your hair? Beer? Although at times money may be tight–we always seem to find the dough for what we need. Did you know I used to smoke cigarettes? There were times I was dirt poor, not a piece of bread in my cupboard; but I always had smokes…always.

That’s why I scoff at reports which state that people hold back from health care because of cost. A recent survey claims that 20% of Americans delayed or postponed medical care, mostly doctor visits, because of cost. These surveys are used as fodder for ideologues trying to push an agenda. So of course this latest Thomson Reuters poll, and the many number of polls like it, are simply ammo for the solely political issue of universal health care that is being pushed onto us now.

You know as well as I do that these same people holding off on medical care for financial reasons are going to the movies, roasting at Coachella, drinking at the pub, getting their $750 Jonathin Antin haircuts, and so forth; and they are spending their money for those things because they value them–that is, they get something for their money. Health care often is of subtle value, especially if there is no immediate problem. So, yeah, people will forgo those routine physicals, where you go through the discomfort of a digital probe simply to be told, “Rectum of a twenty-year-old,” because, well, they seem pointless.

I believe this happens because, as I said, health care often has subtle benefits. Unlike an auto problem, for which most people will fork out the cash, no questions asked, opting out of a routine office visit at the doctors won’t strand you on the side of the road.

Now, obviously, neglecting health in this way is foolish. That’s true whether we are talking about passing on a chiropractic wellness visit, a gym membership, or dietary supplements, simply because you gotta stretch the dough and the health regimen just doesn’t fit in this month (and you’ve got to budget as you’re seeing Jonathan next week). It just comes down to what you value.

I’m not judging peoples’ values here; we value what we value. But I don’t care for this political sleight of hand–using ambiguous data to support an agenda. Yes, the recent data collected in the Thomson Reuters poll is ambiguous. Without knowing where else these same people are spending their money, we can’t make any serious conclusions about the prohibitive costs of health care.

2 Responses to People Spend Where They Value

  1. Pat B. says:

    Dear Dr. Nick,

    Believe it. You know me, I don’t spend money on anything – no vacations ever, shirts from the Old Navy $5 dollar table, and I can’t remember the last time I had dinner in a restaurant. But this year I had a choice between continuing to pay the rent and paying my health insurance premium. Rent won. I skipped my last eye exam, my last gyno visit, and I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in a year. Some of us are skipping health maintenance visits because we must. It didn’t help that my “health care provider” gave me an egregiously high, out-of-cycle rate hike.

    Pat B.

  2. Pat,

    Sounds like you valued your rent over your health-care this time. That makes sense, since not paying your rent will have the more immediate consequences—probably the wisest way to decide. However, yours is your circumstance and doesn’t necessarily reflect the norm. Take a look around you, see all the people consuming? It would be presumptuous to assume that they are all in the same position as you. So, my point is that using these polls that say people are bypassing doctors visits because they can’t afford it are erroneous. Saying, “But that’s the case with me,” simply isn’t science. A poll that takes into account all spending would probably be better (if we could ever get the truth).

    You know, there is a saying, “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.” Statistics can be used by any person, party or political ideologue to make their point; and it will certainly seem to make sense to the undiscerning among us. But is it the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? It doesn’t matter which politician is currently running things, they are all playing the same lying, manipulating, and pocket-stuffing game as the rest of them…just with different “friends.” In the end, we all push for what benefits us. If Joe pays out a load in taxes, he’ll want that changed. If Jim has a hard time paying his medical insurance, he’ll want that changed.

    A simple strategy is this: find a more affordable health plan (I’ll give you the name of a fantastic agent, if you want it—he’s saved me a ton of money), invest in a gym membership (and go), invest in real food (you’re doing yourself an enormous service by not eating out in restaurants—most are way overpriced and not great for your health), come see me once a month (or quarter—I’ve got inexpensive cash fees for people in need), learn to meditate, do free yoga classes at Runyon Canyon on the weekends, walk regularly, and get lots of rest. That should do wonders for you…and the country. Thanks for responding.

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