Poor Finances = Poor Health?


Does it follow that if your finances are in poor shape so too must your health be?

This is a question that has been rearing its head in my household for the past couple of years and it was brought home to us last week that despite the “free” healthcare we are entitled to here in the UK, that yes, poor finances do mean that your health is going to be poor too.

Let me explain.

Our finances have been tight for a number of years now, ironically since I became too ill to work and our household income halved overnight, and bit by bit we have had to drop non-essential things and some questionably-essential things off our list of spending. More recently – in the past two years or so – we have had to drop things off our list more and more of the “questionably” essential things and quite a lot of the essential things too. If you have had financial difficulties yourself you will know what I mean. You don’t simply drop a level in the supermarket, you sometimes drop the supermarket altogether; there’s nothing in the kitty for “treats”, like school trips for the kids; you learn how to cut your own hair because the £20 for a haircut can be better spent on soap and laundry detergent for the household. You get the idea.

But the health thing, the health thing. That one really hurts me. You may know that I have regular medication to keep me in a semi-working condition so that I can get about and DO stuff, and it is a cost that we just have to absorb into our monthly spend. I have no choice really – well I do, if I am content to writhe about in pain all day and never be able to stand upright or go outside the house ever again. There have been times when difficult choices have been made, and there have been times when I’ve not been proud of the outcome of those decisions. I’m not condoning telling lies to the NHS but sometimes there is simply no choice.

eye chartAnd so to the incident last week where it was brought home to us just how if affects people who have not got the money to look after their health. Both Kevin and I wear glasses all the time – I have done since before I could even sit up properly in my pram and Kevin because of his age and the usual, expected deterioration in his eyesight – and we have both been told that we should have our eyes tested every twelve months now. You can guess what I’m going to say next, can’t you? Yes, that’s right: we haven’t had the money available for the eye test nor the resulting new glasses for a number of years. It’s beginning to sound like a mantra isn’t it? But it’s true. One of the things that went off the spending list was trips to the opticians. We both felt that we could manage with the glasses we were wearing, and with some adjustments we could make do and accept that we would just struggle with poor eyesight for a while longer. And a bit longer. And even a bit longer after that.

Until December when we realised that enough was enough and we just had to go and get our eyes checked. I was getting terrible headaches and I couldn’t spend very much time reading or studying as I ought to be doing because my eyes were hurting after such a short time. I have not been able to do cross-stitching for ages now because I’ve not been able to see properly, but in recent months I’ve not been able to do any crochet neither. Now that’s major because you’ve seen the size of a crochet hook? Well, I couldn’t focus on it!

But that’s not the worst. Kevin has been struggling for longer than me, and it’s worse for him because he’s an IT manager and needs to be able to see a computer screen to do his job. He’s been getting neck-ache because of leaning in to see his screen at work and has been avoiding driving at dusk because of difficulties in focussing at twilight. Not easy.

So, we bit the bullet and went to have our eyes tested last week. And the news is not good for Kevin. He has got to go to the eye hospital because they have picked up a problem with both his eyes, which if it is not treated could lead to him going blind in a few years time. It frightens me to think that we had been putting off eye tests for so long and had we not gone last week, how much more damage would have been done to his eyesight before we had enough money to go and find out? It’s not just a matter of having the right lenses by which to see, but eye health in general which is at stake.

In terms of what we have to juggle to make ends come close (no question of them actually meeting at the minute), I can do without haircuts, I can do without food, I can do without luxuries and treats and holidays and days out and trips to the cinema and a winter coat and proper shoes and a whole host of other things, but to think of my husband doing without his eyesight brings a whole new aspect to all things financial.

The debate about what constitutes a living wage rumbles on and on in political circles and in the press and social media, and while everyone has an opinion on it, not many people actually see the affect that wage cuts, sick benefit cuts, healthcare cuts, food cost increases, transport cost increases, prescription rises and all the rest of it actually have on real people. My husband could go blind because of a combination of all these things and I thank God that it has been picked up at this stage because we cobbled together the opticians fees last week.

Poor finances = poor health? You betcha.

 

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About Pam Smith

I am a Christian and currently exploring vocation. I am a writer, I conduct a brass band, I am an avid reader and when I'm not doing any of those things I crochet with a fierce passion. I am mum to two fantastic young adults, celebrating my Silver wedding anniversary in 2016 with my husband. I recently gained my Bachelor of Arts with honours.
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8 Responses to Poor Finances = Poor Health?

  1. auntyuta says:

    An eye check-up is for free in Australia, glasses can be expensive if you need special lenses. If you have an eye sickness and have to regularly visit an eye specialist, this can cost a bit because visits to specialists are only partly covered by Medicare (our free health fund).Visits to the General Practitioner (GP) are free if the GP bulk bills and sends the bill to Medicare. Some GPs do charge extra on top of what Medicare provides for the visit. All visits to any specialist cost extra on top of what Medicare comes up with. We do not have a Labor Government at present. So, the Liberal Government wants to introduce a few changes to our ‘free’ healthcare system because there is a “crisis” in overspending taxpayers’ money!

    Peter had to see his eye specialist today. She charged 90 Dollars for the visit. He gets about one third of this back from Medicare. He needs an eye operation. He has been on a waiting list for this for some time already. It can last for up to 12 months before it is his turn if he wants to have the operation for free.

    For us the most expensive health care costs are for dental care. Over the years both Peter and I spent thousands of Dollars on our teeth and partial dentures.

    Hopefully both you, dear Pam, as well as Kevin are going to be able to manage somehow to get the absolutely necessary treatment for your eyes. I wish you the best of health anyhow for the year 2015.

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    • auntyuta says:

      Sorry, I have to add to this Peter’s hearing problem. His ‘free’ hearing aids do not work properly most of the time. They often drive me up the wall. But what do you expect from people who were born in the mid 1930s! Considering how old we are, we are quite well off, really. 🙂

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      • sterlingsop says:

        Thank you for your comments Uta, your perspective always makes me rethink my own. I do hope Peter’s eyes and ears don’t cause too many other problems for you both.

        When you consider health problems around the world, ours are pretty minor really and I do thank God that they aren’t worse for us. They could be so much worse and for that I am grateful.

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  2. dderbydave says:

    There’s a gap in the UK that we’re aware of where wage eats into benefits to the point where benefits are minimal or cease but where the overall income just isn’t enough. That middle ground where some friends of ours and, obviously, you sit is a right cow. Our friend works for a decent wage installing lightning conductor strips on buildings. Because of this (and his four kids) they, like you, fight to make ends come even remotely close, let alone meet. His opportunity for promotion is very limited in his field and poor health has prevented his wife from getting a job. Their car was crashed into and written off. They can’t afford a new one so now bus everywhere.
    I can only see things getting worse with cutbacks and that “gap” growing with more folk struggling.
    Hope hubby resolves his eye problems quickly and that you guys turn a corner soon.

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    • sterlingsop says:

      Cheers Dave. Our situation isn’t unique, I know that, and your friend’s story sounds remarkably similar to ours. Our car is hanging on to being roadworthy by literally a wing and a prayer at the minute. I don’t know what we’ll do when it finally gives up the ghost! It sounds pathetic but it’s in such bad shape at the minute that every morning we are surprised that a) it starts , b) that the handbrake releases (it has a habit of binding on) and c) that there’s enough fuel to get Kevin to work and back. We were very nearly undone over Christmas because the windscreen wipers packed up. You’ve got to laugh haven’t you when your car is so worthless and just about hanging on that when the windscreen wipers stop working you may as well write the whole car off! You’ve got to laugh or you’d cry….!

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  3. Mich says:

    We are what they term the “working poor”, robbing Peter to pay Paul, praying we dont get sick (in Canada Dr visits are free but for any prescriptions we pay a charge for tge pharmacist plus between 25 to 75% of the cost of the drug so you hope the Dr can precsribe an old generic drug which will be cheaper!) Working puts our income just above lots of ‘thresholds’ so you cant get subsidies etc. would probably be better off selling the house, going on a huge holiday and then claiming benefits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sterlingsop says:

      I hear you Mich! Things have changed here quite a bit since you left – your Rachel will tell you all about the NHS changes – and you are bob on when you say we are the “working poor”. Robbing Peter to feed the kids is more usual at the minute, let alone paying Paul! We are in exactly the same boat as you. Kevin’s wages are not enough to be a “living wage” but they are too high for us to qualify for any assistance. Even food banks need a referral now and you can only get them from places like the Job Centre or Social Services. What about people like us who aren’t covered by those safety nets in the first place? I’d join you in the big holiday if we weren’t in negative equity – if we sell this place then we’d end up owing more than we would sell it for so the closest we’d get to a big holiday would be if we were entertained at one of Her Majesty’s Hotels lol!! Sorry for sounding so negative, but Kevin’s eyesight seems such a cruel price to pay. We’ll get through it – I have faith that God will look after us and things will eventually work out. My prayer is that he gives us the tools and the courage to last the journey along the way. Pam x

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      • Mich says:

        Thankfully we are not in negative equity, that totally sucks.

        Our house is worth exactly what we paid for it, though we had to invest over $30 grand to make it liveable eg new furnace & AC, double glazed windows and doors, new roof! Which took all savings and then some.

        So we’d get our deposit back minus the line of credit (we took out to pay for the double glazing) and fees etc. which I (as an exercise?) worked out as leaving approx $2500, that should pay for me n the kids flights to come back to UK for a ‘holiday’ 😉 Yeh! I could come play at Todd for a couple of weeks? If you have any spare instruments, cos Rachel gave away the one I borrowed last time.

        I totally understand about confidence in faith, our church here is Faith United and their support is what keeps me going, my kids have loads of proxy grandparents looking out for them, we have a new female minister, and she n her wife Elizabeth are awesome. Everyone from our church has offered their support especially now that Rich has had to take a job in Mississauga, so he spends the week there and comes home at the weekend.

        Neighbours n churchies have phoned to give me a ride to work, take me grocery shopping, let the kids go skating.

        Gotta love my neighbourhood n my church!
        Mich

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