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Recession Is Bad for Health

Americans Are Taking Grave Chances With Their Health Because of Recession and Money Fears
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Staying Healthy When Money Is Tight

Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an Atlanta internist, says corporate downsizing and the resultant loss of health insurance is literally killing people.

“Now patients have to be proactive,” she tells WebMD. “Take a walk instead of worrying. Some people are saying they can’t pay, and we just try to do what we can. A lot of people have had to be put on antidepressants. I tell them to eat the right foods and exercise, even if they have to give up their [health] clubs.”

Kara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, says membership has dropped 2.4% since 2007, to 45.5 million. However, “More and more people are realizing that money spent on a health club membership is not just money spent, it’s an investment in and commitment to their health,” she tells WebMD. “The return on investment is high, the benefits of exercise are innumerable.”

Bonnie Jacobson, PhD, director of the New York Institute for Psychological Change and an adjunct professor at New York University, says she believes the worst is over, at least on Wall Street, where many of her clients work.  “There was a level of panic, and that migrated out to shock the country,” she tells WebMD. “We’re a country in an anxiety disorder. It’s been a rude awakening.” 

The AAFP’s Epperly says it’s going to be a while before people start taking care of themselves again, whether they have health insurance and jobs or not.

Gardner says employers can save $16 for every $1 they invest in health and wellness.

“It needs to be done,” Fryhofer says. “Everybody needs to help. People are stressed even if they still have a job and insurance because they’ve seen the value of their retirement portfolios drop. We all need to reassure each other that we’re going to get through this.”

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