Obesity is not just a risk to physical health anymore. Individuals who struggle with obesity also put their personal bank account and even their loved ones’ finances at risk as they face greater health costs in later years than their fitter peers. Industry experts and community health education specialists report approximately one in every five adult Americans (20 percent) is now considered clinically obese. A significant additional group of adult Americans is considered overweight, if not yet obese. Even one pound of extra weight beyond what is ideal for your gender, age, frame and height adds extra pressure to joints and places a greater burden on internal organs and body systems. Perhaps most critically, excess weight can limit mobility, independence and quality of life later on. According to a recent poll, nearly 30 percent of older Americans report their greatest concerns about living longer include maintaining independence and affording skyrocketing medical care costs.
“Obesity” is a medical term describing a health condition in which body mass (most typically from body fat) has exceeded what is considered medically healthy for an individual. The mathematical calculation used to determine conditions of overweight or obesity is called “body mass index” or BMI for short. Physicians use a formula that inputs the ratio of height to body weight to calculate an individual’s BMI. Depending on age, height, gender, frame and other factors, two people could have the same BMI and one may be considered medically obese while the other is not. As a rule of thumb, an adult individual may be classified as “obese” if that person weighs 20 percent more than what their ideal BMI is supposed to be. Obesity is a serious condition that impacts a person’s health in numerous ways. Among the most common health risks for obese (and to a lesser extent, overweight) individuals are these:
- Heart disease
- Joint issues
- Asthma and sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Gallstones and gallbladder disease
Aging: Your Early Warning System
Biologically, two things occur once you reach the age of 40. The first is you slowly begin to lose muscle mass — up to five percent per year. The second is you begin to gain weight. The reasons for weight gain are linked to changes in hormone levels and metabolism. Researchers at Berkeley Labs report even if you continue to exercise and eat the same healthy diet as you did when you were in your 20s and 30s, a gradual weight gain is nearly inevitable without some kind of corresponding increase in exercise and a stricter adherence to a healthy diet.
Obesity and Long-Term Care Insurance
The twin primary health impacts of obesity — loss of mobility/independence and higher cost of health care — are two issues long-term care insurance is well-equipped to address. However, for obese or overweight individuals who wait to apply for a policy until their health has begun to decline, it is often harder to afford the premiums or to qualify for a policy. This is why consultants are now recommending purchase of a long-term care insurance policy as early as age 40, when premiums will still be lower and it is more likely you will be readily approved for a policy. As well, by applying for a long-term care insurance policy at a younger age, it is easier to budget for affording premiums into your later years.
Longer lifespans and better technology are already contributing to public concern about affording health care later in life. The best tool on the market today to alleviate the financial burden of escalating health care costs is the long-term care insurance policy. By educating yourself about how aging impacts your health, researching care costs early and selecting the appropriate insurance policy to protect you and your family, you are prepared to enter your golden years with the tools necessary to stay financially healthy and independent.
About the Author: Joe Houston is a guest blogger and counselor. He recently purchased long-term care insurance after researching LTC Tree.