I’m often asked why herbal medicine is ‘so expensive’ and it got me thinking about the cost of health in general, whether you want to use herbs or not. As I got to writing it I realised I’d written rather a lot so I’m going to split it into two, the first part on how much does health cost us, and the second on how you can improve your health on a budget.
Firstly, what is the cost if you are unwell?
If it’s a cold or flu it might mean a few days off of work, you may lose a small amount of money, you may not be well enough to look after family members.
If you’re unlucky enough to have a chronic long term condition the cost of your condition is often much greater than lost work hours and NHS prescription fees, it’s the loss of ‘quality of life’ and that really can’t be put into monetary terms. If you were to suffer from a condition where you experience chronic pain and your mobility is greatly reduced, how much would you pay to be pain free for a day, and able to play games with your children?
What do we spend keeping well and healthy?
Shelter and Water
The first thing we need is shelter and water, without that we certainly wouldn’t have good health, so mortgage/rent, council tax and household bills for heating etc all go towards health.
So as an example let’s put that figure at £700 per month (mortgage/rent + heating + council tax+water).
One of the most if not the most important factor in health is food.
According to an article in the Guardian in 2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/dec/11/families-spend-489-each-week-on-what) an average household spends £227 a month on food.
The second most important factor in health is exercise, so while walking the dog doesn’t cost anything, sports clubs, gym memberships, sporting equipment etc does. So for the sake of argument let’s estimate that at £30 per month per person.
Vitamins and supplements are often seen as a quick and easy way to improve your health (this is not always the case – more on this on a later blog). A survey in 2009 showed that the average person in the UK spends £12 a year on vitamins and supplements.
Over the counter medicines
From aspirin and neurofen to cough syrup and indigestion tablets, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain estimates that we spend £35.80 a year per person on OTC medicines.
If you happen to live in an area where you have to pay for NHS prescriptions, which also adds to your bill of health, at £8.20 a prescription. An article on the NHS website in December 14 stated that 50% of women and 43% of men in England were taking prescription drugs at least every week.
While many people consider the NHS to be ‘free’ it is actually paid for by anyone who pays tax. If for example you earn £20,000 a year, you will pay on average £80.00 a month (via tax) to the NHS.
Mental health and having joy for life are often over looked but they actually contribute to a large part of our health. Therefore the cost of anything that you enjoy and is contributing to your good health should also be included, e.g. hobbies, religious activities etc.
So let’s recap that into a month bill for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children).
|Shelter and water||£700|
|Vitamins and supplements||£2|
|Over the counter medicines||£8.95|
|NHS (through tax)||£160.00|
That’s a lot of money we’re spending already on health a month, no wonder anything additional to that is seen as ‘an expense’ or even ‘a luxury’.
So like anything in life you get what you pay for and herbal medicine is no different.
I am always willing to help people on a budget find a way of using herbs that is the most cost effective for them. For some people they don’t have the time or energy to go out and gather herbs themselves, or grow them themselves. Therefore they are paying for someone else to do that for them. If the herbs are then processed and made into medicines by someone else then that is going to have an added cost.
In the next part to this blog I will be talking about ways to improve your health on a budget.