Health is a fundamental human right, yet the demands of healthcare costs go sky-high, becoming a source of financial strain and stress. In this episode together with Dr. Andrea Feigl, we’re sharing the difficulties and demands of those who suffer from chronic illness in a micro- and macro-level aspect, as well as ways of advocating for themselves and their loved ones.
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Andrea is the CEO and founder of the Health finance Institute, a global-health non-profit focused on closing the financing gap for chronic illnesses. Her past work has focused on the economics and policies of preventing and treating the economic burden of chronic diseases.
The High Cost of Healthcare
A colleague of Dr. Feigl did a study in which it was reported that the costs of healthcare are so high at a societal level in the United States, accounting for 9% of the household budget. There are two ways to look at these expenses: the direct cost (i.e., medical services, diagnostics, visits) and the indirect cost (i.e., not being productive at work, missing appointments, family members having to manage their time). Investing in better support structures, which includes having coverage to pay for preventative expenses and primary and check-in expenses, in order to prevent interacting with the healthcare system when the person is already extremely ill.
Chronic Illness is a Lifestyle
Over 50% drop off their medical treatment regimen within 2 years. Dr. Feigl says that understanding oneself is what ultimately makes someone stick because chronic conditions become a part of one’s life—it’s a lifestyle. A person with a strong social network sticks much more strongly to their regimen, which would greatly benefit them in the long run. Asking questions such as “What makes the healthy choice the easy choice? “Or even better, “what makes the healthy choice the cheap choice? “to understand treatment schedules, preferences, and such to make one adhere to.
Healthcare is a Basic Human Right
Dr. Feigl reports that 28 million people in the United States remain uninsured and are suffering personal bankruptcy, with medical expenses being the main reason. She and her organization see healthcare as a human right, so she inevitably feels an injustice knowing this. It is worth noting that pharmaceutical companies offer programs wherein you can apply for access to their drugs and assistance. Cash assistance programs through mayor’s offices and community centers (not every community offers one) should also be taken advantage of for health and wellness.
Advocating For A Better and Empathetic Future
It is saddening that most people think of health as an afterthought rather than a first thought one should have in mind. Being vocal about labor laws, employment rights, and other policies; creating dialogues to create a healthier space for those who are struggling with chronic illness, as well as the loved ones who are taking care of them, is an important way to advocate. Also, basic conditions around mental health are significant for a better, more accessible, and more empathic future of healthcare.
How do you budget and/or save for regular (non-emergency) medical expenses?
- Dr. Feigl: Dr. Feigl abides by her excel spreadsheet and she creates margin in finances for her personal trainer
- Jill: Jill has a sinking fund for her medical expenses
- Jen: Jen and her husband save up and pay or they just pay out of their regular miscellaneous fund.
Bill of The Week
Thank you Dr. Andrea for sharing your bill about advocating for justice in rental car billing.
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