Health insurance, co-pays, out-of-network, out-of-pocket, OT, PT, etc. are significant costs for a family. Add to those costs a gym membership, fitness classes and mental health costs and you’re talking a couple of thousand dollars a month. This is doable when you are employed and have a steady paycheck coming in, but Covid-19 has shown how the American system is broken.
I won’t get on my stump and talk about universal health care being a human right, since until I moved to France and got free healthcare, I never really thought about it. I liked my private insurance, especially since some of the premiums were paid by my husband’s employer, and we are a healthy family. Besides the fun stuff, like Soul Cycle, we didn’t spend a lot on health related items. I’m not counting my husband’s beer runs to CVS as part of our healthcare spending.
Being a financial planner I see where my clients’ money is going. Some are lucky and have healthcare fully paid by their employers, while others are paying $1,500 per month for coverage for a family. Due to early intervention, kids often are prescribed different therapies like occupational therapy or physical therapy. Depending on how your child scores on certain criteria, some states will cover these therapies, but often times they will be out-of-pocket, especially if the therapists are also out of network. Then, once kids get into 2nd grade or so, orthodontics starts. I remember when braces went on once and that was it. Now they go on twice but for shorter periods of time. At least that was my experience with my daughter. These costs are pretty much non-negotiable for most families.
Physical health seems like a luxury item after you add up all the fixed expenses. Gyms cost an average of $150-500 per month. Most of my clients tend to spend $300-350 on family fitness. Due to Covid-19 and the closure of gyms, Peloton has been doing great. With a bike costing $2,245 plus around $58 per month for classes, the monthly cost is $245 for the first year. (Note: I do not own any Peloton stock or have one, but I wouldn’t mind!). Physical health also includes massage and other therapies to keep your body working the way it should. At a minimum these start at $80 per hour.
And finally, what about mental health? Talking to a therapist can be lifesaving, especially in trying times like these. Prices for sessions range from $65-250. Once a week could run $1,000 a month.
So, how can all of this be affordable? Well, it isn’t. That’s the problem. But it isn’t the problem in other parts of the world. Currently in France, I pay about $12 for a doctor visit and nothing for prescription medicine. My kids’ glasses are completely free for two pairs each year with all the bells and whistles. And unlimited Crossfit runs me $60 per month. Yes, taxes and payments for social security are higher in France but look what is provided in return.
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a privilege that only people making over $200,000 can afford. You don’t read stories about people being turned away at hospitals here. I am not a public policy expert, but I am a parent and want to live in a place where health is valued by the government elected to protect me. I’m sure some consultant or lobbyist has put a price tag put on my health, and I’m sure I value it a lot more than they do. I have to remind myself of this, every time I start getting cabin fever and want to bust out of my 1 km confinement zone. It’s hard, but we are all worth it.