This is not a post about someone creating a wealth ignoring the health and then spend the wealth to regain the health!!
This post is about some observations that I have had in my entrepreneurial journey having worked in both verticals ie Personal Finance and Healthcare. Lest that you associate Wealth with lots of money, in this context it means money at any level.
Although I had clear views about this relationship, it wasn’t until yesterday at a TiE event with Kanwal Rekhi when I responded to a specific query from Rajan Srikanth of SmartKapital, that I felt must express them. Hence this post. If there is someone you want to thank or attack, Srikanth is the person!!
1. Although it may be applicable elsewhere in the world, the origin of my views are from India and that too from my interactions with institutions and individuals in these 2 areas viz health and wealth.
2. My interaction on money has been with the so-called middle class and so if there are any HNIs reading this post and feel offended, my apologies. (the ultra-poor are anyway not going to read this post but if they do, then my apologies to them as well)
3. My views on health may be coloured by what I have observed with the chronic therapies glasses and may not be relevant for critical care.
Enough of protection and so I shall say now what I wanted to say.
a. People’s attitude towards their own money and health are almost the same: Apathy.
You may be outraged by this radical statement because our entire lives are spent chasing, earning and spending the money but allow me to explain.
Very few people would consistently know the exact money they are carrying in their wallets or handbags and an approximate answer would be at a variance of 20% or more. Given that money is important to us, should we not know at least this? Again, even fewer people will know their current blood sugar level or urea or whatever is an important health parameter. When I ask a diabetes patient about his current reading, invariably I get a response “who knows? its been quite some time since i tested?”
Most of us know about the importance of managing our investments but then how do we explain thousands of crores (Rs.2481 crores in commercial banks alone) lying idle in Banks and post offices unclaimed after the instruments mature? I have not concocted this figure, just in case you are wondering but this is an official RBI release. This is our hard-earned money that we saved and invested but for various reasons have not claimed even after they matured. I developed a software Product called Fixed Investment Tracker (FIT) that would remind the users about the investments that would mature in the next 60 days so that they can take the necessary action.
Likewise, the number of patients who take the mandated tests in time is very small. Many people know that they should take the tests on time in their own interest but still do not do it. If this is not apathy, then what is?
I could go on and on but I hope you got the message.
b. Keeping patchy records, if at all
When it comes to maintaining the transactional records regarding their health or wealth, again most people are found wanting.
Do you consistently keep records of your incomes and expenses? The answer would be no. In an era where people crumple the receipt of their ATM withdrawal and throw it on the floor immediately after the transaction, what can we expect? This one habit of keeping personal accounts kept our fathers running the large households with a single income without compromising on the basic needs. Now with both parents earning and with nuclear families, there is still the struggle and the fear of the financial future. We offer a software called ‘Enrich‘ which helps families to track their money, budget and take their first step towards prosperity.
Likewise, putting the test results and the prescriptions in a file would be the closest to maintaining medical records but that doesn’t solve any problem. Diabetic patients (I know many given that we have developed two solutions DiaSof and DiaCel) would go to their doctors, if at all, with just their test results at best. They are supposed to journal any abnormal pain or symptoms as they experience them but most don’t do. Fortunately for them, the doctor doesn’t them if there were any instances of hypoglycemia (low sugar) or whether they had any pain in the feet.
c) “Nothing will happen to me” syndrome.
The number of people who take Life and Medical insurance is abysmally low despite the tax breaks. In fact, if the tax breaks go, then our Insurance companies will be out of business. Many people spend their future money (thanks to credit cards and personal loans) on latest gadgets and holidays with gay abandon, without a thought of how they will repay the EMIs if they are given a pink slip.
It is no different with the health. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the adverse health impact of smoking or drinking alcohol, we find no dearth of smokers and drinkers. Statutory warnings on the cigarette box or the liquor bottle label serve no purpose because nobody reads them. Why do even so-called responsible people persist with smoking despite the dangers of passive smoking for their loved ones? They think that all the other smokers may get cancer but they are immune!! It is the same thing with all chronic therapies as well.
I am tempted to include my earlier post on the same subject!!
I hope I have been able to establish a basic level of connection between Wealth and Health!! Am keen to listen to your views and perhaps will write another post later with more evidence.