This is an article Simon wrote for “The Test” website
Australia Can Lead the World in Health and Happiness.
Rising sickness care costs are currently threatening to bankrupt the USA. Likewise in Australia, we are facing a severe overloading of our medical system. However, we have a good track record of finding solutions, such as the innovation Australia applied in 1975 with the introduction of Medicare (then Medibank). Our common-sense ability makes Australia more than capable to lead the health and happiness agenda.
Australians know that “if it is to be, then it is up to me”; that is why Australians pay for private health insurance while retaining an entitlement to free public care. Australians understand that chronic lifestyle disease is brought about by our own lifestyle choices and risky behaviour, such as eating too much of the wrong things, and that positive change can be affected by positive investment in health and happiness.
Our private health funds are leading the way by designing products to reward better health behaviours. Initiatives such as ‘the test’ are teaching better ways to navigate people towards wellness. Australians are now recognising that their “health and happiness improvement strategy” is no different than saving for and investing in a house. Healthy habits are like deposits and risky habits create withdrawals in the “health and happiness bank account”.
In the lead up to the end of financial year, I began to ponder the opportunity that would be created if the government offered a 50% tax rebate on healthy behaviour spending instead of the one offered this year for business expenditure. Imagine if the government’s annual disease expenditure of $3181 per person was converted to an annual “rejuvenation” expenditure, Australians would be a whole lot healthier!
So in the month of June, I decided to examine my own health spending habits.
- I bought an organic apple, carrot and cucumber, sat in the park and ate them slowly. Cost: $5.
- I chose a packet of brown rice seaweed crackers to eat as a calcium snack on the way home from work—my body celebrated. Cost: $5.
- I called my mum on the way home and told her how I loved and appreciated her. Cost: $0.35
- I spent ten minutes writing a note on the pay slips of all my staff. Cost $2 for cards.
- I hugged ten clients. Cost: Nil.
- I wrestled with my sons the first time they asked and gave them a bonus tickle.
- I shot for 15 serves of fruit and vegetables each day for the last two weeks of June and almost made it. Cost $50.
- I designed a few safe stretches to do in my car whilst driving to work—and they felt good.
- I listened only to positive relationship building audios in my car, twice over. Cost $20
- I kept a focus on my eating this month knowing that when my belt feels tight I must tighten my lips and eat less.
So for $80, I generated many health and happiness investment credits and for under $1000 per year, I know I could make an enormous difference to my life. Even with the best healthcare system in the world, nobody can be expected to invest in MY health and happiness more than ME.