How often have you chatted with someone who is struggling through a working day despite having a heavy cold, a case of the flu, or some other medical or health problem, and heard them say they should really be tucked up in bed recovering but they “can’t afford to be sick”.

It might sound uncharitable, but chances are it crossed your mind that they were being melodramatic or angling for sympathy. In some cases, that might well be the case, but increasingly, Americans are finding that poor health is a “luxury” that they genuinely cannot afford, and the ongoing debate about Obamacare and the American Healthcare Act is doing little to ease people’s minds.

Self employed 

Part of the problem is the huge surge in self-employed and freelance entrepreneurs over the past decade. This has been enormously encouraged by the digital revolution. Suddenly, it is a matter of simplicity to setup a business on your own, with minimal barriers to entry or startup costs, particularly for those operating in the service sectors.

The freedom and pioneering spirit of running your own business might sound great, and being your own boss can be hugely rewarding and reap high dividends. However, there is always risk associated with return. In this case, one of the biggest dangers is being unable to work, for whatever reason.

Staying healthy

The best way to guard against this eventuality is to stay healthy. That might sound like a trite statement of the obvious, but it is a consideration that many fail to bear in mind. Leading a healthy lifestyle is important for all sorts of reasons in order to lead a happy, rewarding life, but when you have dependents who are reliant on your income, it becomes even more important.

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Staying healthy is not just about getting regular exercise, eating the right diet, and cutting down on the alcohol and cigarettes, although all of those things certainly help. It is also about making a preemptive strike against the maladies that often affect us, particularly as we approach middle age.

Regular health checks are essential to identify any potential problems and deal with them before they get the opportunity to become serious. Cholesterol is a prime example. A recent study found that an astonishing 40 percent of Americans have cholesterol levels that are high or borderline. There are simple ways to test your cholesterol, yet the study found that even among those most at risk, around half have not had a cholesterol test in the past year.

Other financial implications

The inability to work, or to only be able to manage a reduced load is, of course, a major consideration, but it is not the only financial implication of poor health. We all know that smokers pay a higher premium for health insurance, for example, but this is not the only question that brokers are likely to ask.

If you are taking out a policy, they will certainly be interested in your medical history, as well as your height and weight. If the latter points to an unhealthy body mass index, it means you are a higher risk, and your monthly payments will be calculated accordingly.

The same applies if you seek to take out a loan. To put it bluntly, the lender needs to be confident you will still be around to make the repayments. This is why they too ask what seem to be very personal questions when considering your creditworthiness.

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It’s not all bad news

If you are a fan of beer, cigarettes, and junk food, and your idea of a workout is walking to the front door to collect the pizza delivery, the foregoing might be sending you into a depression, but think about it objectively.

Taking care of your body is never a bad idea. It will make you feel better, give you more energy, and set a good example for your family. It will also mean that they worry less – even if it is not a big deal to you, nobody likes to see a loved one potentially doing themselves harm.

It could be that the added financial incentive of getting yourself checked out and staying in tip top health will give you the impetus you need, leading to a healthier bank balance, a healthier you, and a happier home.

Remember, just a small change can make a big difference, so why not make today the day that you get started? Good luck!

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