An unsettling survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute® found that the economic crisis is starting to have daily effects on Americans. Millions of people are now skipping meals, forgoing prescription medication, buying less nutritious food, and going without medical care.
It’s a concerning sign of the times when an increasing number of people can’t afford to eat properly and take their medications. Both of these things could have serious health impacts going forward, and if they can’t afford to prevent those, how will they afford to pay for treading them?
People are skipping meals.
Some would argue that Americans could afford to miss a few meals based on obesity rates in our country. But the poverty diet is no way to resolve health issues. Folks are turning to cheap, non-nutritious calories just to fill their bellies, leaving them even less healthy.
According to the survey:
Over the last 12 months, nearly two in five American households (40%) received food or goods from a food bank (22% for Millennials), and the same amount (17%) stopped buying healthier foods (organic or high-priced healthy foods).
Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say they skipped meals or didn’t buy groceries due to high inflation (including 28% of Gen Z and 23% of millennials).
One or two meals a day can meet a person’s needs if they’re nutritious. But for some, the entire concept of this is unhealthy. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, diabetics, and those with a history of eating disorders could find their health suffering.
Plus, if you are skipping meals because you can’t afford groceries, you are probably not dining on grilled chicken, organic veggies, and a green smoothie when you do eat. It’s more likely to be something along the lines of boxed macaroni and cheese or ramen noodles, just to keep the hunger at bay. I know this. I’ve been there.
People are skipping medical essentials.
Equally alarming is the fact that people are skipping medication and medical care in an effort to keep their heads financially above water. The same survey found:
Many have cancelled or postponed plans in the past 12 months to see a specialist (14%), take a prescribed medication (10%) or get an annual physical (11%) due to high inflation. Almost one-fifth of Gen Z (17%) and Millennials (19%) have cancelled or postponed plans in the past 12 months to see a mental health professional…
…As Americans brace for even bigger expenses in the future, the survey finds that one in ten (10%) have decreased their retirement plan contributions in the past year to pay for health care expenses because of high inflation…
…To find additional savings, 14% of Americans say they are considering downgrading their health insurance plan because of high inflation, which rises to 23% and 20% for Gen Z and Millennials, respectively.
These are alarming cuts. By not keeping chronic conditions under control, people risk the condition worsening, which, in the long run, will cost even more. At the same time, you can’t get blood out of a stone. If you simply have no money, you have no money. You can’t pay for these things. We can talk until the cows come home about “programs” and “assistance,” but have you ever tried getting help for medical care? Unless you are absolutely impoverished, it’s nearly impossible. And after the insurance industry caused our healthcare system to explode, paying cash for doctor’s visits and medications is a prohibitively expensive venture.
Not only are people unable to afford to take care of their physical health, but they’re also unable to take care of their mental health. We’ve posted before about the dangerous effects of medications running out in this article. As well, many who suddenly stop taking psychiatric medication end up even worse than they were before they ever started.
Add to this lack of medication and medical care all the stress of the financial crisis, and you’ve got a recipe for human disaster.
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Signs of the times
If your household isn’t directly affected to the extent mentioned in this article, you are very fortunate. Food and medical insecurity are stressful, degrading, and can make a person feel completely hopeless. It’s even worse when that person is unable to provide for those depending on him or her.
If you look at collapses in other countries, you’ll see that these are some of the early signs that things are speeding up. Remember how bad things got in Greece? In Venezuela? Parents were dropping their children off at orphanages because they couldn’t afford to feed them. They were committing suicide. It was awful, and that was during the early stages. Their situations lasted for years after the horrifying peak.
Could we be facing a similar future? The signs seem to point toward it. When people can no longer afford food, medicine, housing, and basic necessities, things are definitely going belly up, especially here in a “prosperous” country.
Some things we can do
If you are in a good situation, I urge you to offer a helping hand where you can. Invite someone who might be struggling over for dinner and send them home with leftovers. Donate to food banks. Teach them how to preserve or grow food. The help you offer may mean all the difference in the world for those folks. If nothing else, it will be a bright spot that reminds them that kindness still exists in the world.
If you are struggling, don’t be ashamed to seek help. Our social safety net, although it can be hard to navigate, is there for situations like the one you are facing. Consider making some radical changes to relieve some of the burdens. It’s really hard, but you can get through this.
Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.