The Health – Wealth Connection

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!!

Few disclaimers:

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.

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6 Comments

  1. Nambi said,

    November 1, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Badri, An interesting analysis and correlation on attribute of people on health and wealth. In the earlier generation, people were very careful with wealth, but I am not sure they were that careful about their health. Today wealth is normally more to satisfy the basic needs (food, clothes, shelter and commute) hence we do not bother to keep track of money to the minutest detail. I know broadly what percentage of my income goes to which expense category. Unless there is a big change in my lifestyle or a lifechanging event, I do not see a need for closely tracking it. Even if wanted to i do not have the time to do it. So I guess the real root cause /problem is poor time management.

    • badrirag said,

      November 2, 2012 at 6:32 am

      Nambi,

      Thanks for sharing.

      It is my observation that the people in the earlier generation did not have to take special care of their health because they had a robust life style, their exposure to the sun was much more and they had access to home remedies that had virtually no side effects. They certainly had money issues what with limited income to take care of a large extended family that included the parents, unmarried sisters, unemployed brothers, wife and many kids but they managed decently to provide the basic needs.

  2. Magesh said,

    November 2, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Dear Sir, Thank you for this very interesting fact. We have shared in the past on FIT also.Article and your intention is very much inspiring.Thank you.

  3. Krishnaswamy said,

    November 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Dear Badri,
    Congratulations first, on this excellent article.
    You have acquired that rare wisdom that is able to recognize patterns in human behaviour, specially in two spheres of activity, Health and Wealth.
    Let me just add this – in any case, in every English Dictionary Health is always before Wealth.
    I hope this response clears my name from any ‘pathy’ list 🙂

    • badrirag said,

      November 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Dilip,

      Thanks for those encouraging words. I am eagerly looking forward to your blog that would emerge as an authority on alternative medicine.

      Badri

  4. Srikrishnan said,

    November 6, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Dear badriji,
    This is something different.

    Surprisingly after reading about the “Service Tax”, I strongly decided to share this information to everyone.

    This happened at the restaurant. Let me explain.

    We had been to several restaurants recently. I observed that “service tax” has been mis-used and charged to the customers like you and me.

    Let me give an example.

    Food and Beverage = Rs. 1000.00
    Service Charges @ 10% = Rs. 100.00 (10% on the Food and beverage amount)
    Service Tax @ 4.94% = Rs. 54.34 (4.94% on F&B + Service Charges)
    VAT @14.5% = Rs. 145.00
    Total = Rs. 1299.34

    As per the definition – “Service Tax can be charged only for the services provided to the customer”.

    Now, see what is happening here in the above said example.

    Service Tax should be charged only on the Service Charges amount i.e Rs.100 and not on the entire amount (1000+100).

    In this example, the customer should be charged only Rs 4.94, whereas he has been charged Rs. 49.40 extra.

    Where does this money go? Only the restaurant owner and the chartered accountants who work for them know.

    So, I have started asking them the questions – and surprised to see the reactions from the famous restaurants.
    Either they say:
    Sir we cannot change the format of the bill – so , we will recalculate and tell you the revised amount. You may pay only that.
    Sir, you do not need to pay the Service Tax amount itself.

    I now have 3 to 4 restaurant bills, for which I have paid only the service tax – on the service charges and not on the total amount.

    Every bill must carry the TIN number and Service Tax Number, if they charge it. So, I ask for the Service tax number if it is not available in the receipt that they provide.

    We cannot go to any government official and ask them to get this right – because of our system.

    Please remember – we cannot change any political leader – but we can change ourselves. If we change ourselves – things will change.

    Please do share this with every one of your friends and known people.

    Ask for the right tax calculation and pay only the tax which is supposed to be paid. Verify every bills and receipts that you make payment on.

    Srikrishnan


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