This is what a 30 year old stands to lose due to tobacco use over 30 years.
You might have come across articles about simple money saving tips. Cut down on power usage with energy efficient lamps and save Rs 300 a month. End the subscription to costly TV channels and save Rs 120. Give up on small luxuries like a cappuccino or a dinner date and see your savings zoom. Though all these penny-pinching measures are worth considering, you can save a much bigger amount every year if you just take good care of your family’s health.
ET Wealth estimates that the cost of smoking can add up to a gargantuan Rs 52.15 lakh over three decades (see graphic). Good health will not only bring down your medical bill but also prune your insurance premium. And this is when we have not even calculated the cost of treating serious illnesses such as cancer and heart ailments.
One cannot completely avoid falling ill. If there was such a formula, the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry would go bust. But you can reduce the chances of falling sick by leading a healthy lifestyle that fortifies your body.
Kick the butt
Tobacco use burns the biggest hole in your finances. It hurts you at three levels. If you are addicted to cigarettes or gutka, it can cost you quite a packet. Even if you are a light smoker and consume five cigarettes a day, more than Rs 10,000 of your wealth is going up in smoke every year. Gutka users who use five pouches a day are chewing up almost Rs 7,000 in a year.
You don’t need a research report to know that tobacco users are more likely to visit their doctor than non-users. Every time you visit a doctor, you end up paying Rs 400-500 as consultation fee and Rs 500-750 on medicines. Smoking makes your body vulnerable to respiratory diseases and cardiac ailments, besides cancer.
Insurance companies are aware of these risks and accordingly hike the premium for tobacco users. If you smoke or consume gutka, you will have to pay 40-60% higher premium for your life insurance. A 30-year-old non-smoker will pay Rs 4,100 a year for an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh for 30 years. But if he smokes, the premium will jump 40% to Rs 5,800. The medical insurance premium is also lower if one does not make a claim.
This isn’t all. Poor health caused by tobacco use also prevents you from leading a full life. Your career prospects can get affected if you fall sick frequently and miss work. This can be particularly debilitating if you are a self-employed professional. Even if you are salaried, taking medical leaves frequently can work against you. An energetic and healthy person is more likely to be shortlisted for a promotion than someone who is often sick.
Prevent, not cure
Kicking the smoking habit is not the only way you can save on medical costs. If you exercise well and eat healthy food, you are less likely to fall sick. Plenty of exercise, good rest and recreation will prevent heart ailments and lifestyle related diseases like depression, insomnia and anxiety.
It’s also important to get a minor problem treated before it turns into a major-and expensive-worry. A root canal treatment for a decaying tooth costs roughly Rs 8,000-10,000, besides numerous visits to the dentist. Instead, if you get your teeth checked every 6-8 months, any cavity can be promptly fixed. A check-up costs only Rs 400-500 while the treatment of a small cavity will leave you poorer by Rs 800-1,000.
The good news is that insurance companies are actively encouraging their customers to take these preventive steps. Customers are offered attractive discounts on annual medical check-ups, yoga classes and even gym memberships. Some companies even go to the extent of checking how many hours you are in the gym in a month. Understandably, your insurance company has a vested interest in your well being. Shouldn’t you too have a vested interest in your good health?