Health: There Are No Silos

The components of health are all interconnected. So when one suffers, they all do.

June 23, 2021
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

If you’ve spent any time in the South, you know that if someone asks if you want a Coke, they’re really asking if you want a soda. This leads to silly conversations like this:

John: Do you want a Coke?
Jolene: Sure!
John: What kind?
Jolene: Pepsi! Thanks.

It’s borderline insanity, but that’s just how language works. We take words that mean one thing, and then we assign a tangentially related meaning to them. The word “Health” is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Typically, we think of "health" as the absence of sickness or infirmity; however, "health" wasn't always used this way, just like Coke wasn't always used as a catchall term for soda.

This issue of how we define “health” led research scientist Harald Brüssow to write a paper titled “What is health?”. In this paper, Mr. Brüssow explains, “The English ‘health’ derives from Old English ‘hælth,’ which is related to ‘whole’ ‘a thing that is complete in itself.’”

It seems that in our modern language, we have walked health away from its original meaning, whole or complete, and toward a meaning defined by the absence of illness. This meaning shift has led us down a path where we often view health through the silos of “physical health,” “mental health,” and “financial health.”

The problem is: there are no silos.

Each category of health (physical, mental, and financial) is commingled with and impacts the other categories. For example, people suffering from financial stress related to debt are far more likely to deal with physical health problems, according to a 2008 AP-AOL poll. A 2019 survey reported that more than half of Americans had lost sleep over financial troubles. This creates a spiraling effect. Person A has debt and begins feeling stressed out, which impacts their mental health. They also start losing sleep, which affects their physical health. And it gets a lot worse, as the finance-fueled stress snowballs into a myriad of physical problems. Purdue University reports that:

High levels of financial stress manifest through physical symptoms like sleep loss, anxiety, headaches/migraines, compromised immune systems, digestive issues, high blood pressure, muscle tension, heart arrhythmia, depression, and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

While that all sounds terrible, it gets much, much worse, as a 2020 survey revealed that individuals in nearly one in three American households have avoided medical care for financial reasons.

This means that financial issues are not only causing people to have serious physical and mental health struggles, but also stopping them from pursuing the healthcare they need. It’s a vicious cycle, the ramifications of which are clearly demonstrated through the following story.

A life-altering accident

Alicia was an average person driving home from her regular job on an ordinary Thursday evening when she hit a patch of black ice and rolled her car. Emergency respondents rushed her to the hospital via ambulance, and when she arrived, she required surgery to repair her fractured hip. Her car was also totaled.

Because of the accident, she subsequently missed two weeks of work and had to spend most of her savings on a new car. Through it all, Alicia struggled to pay rent but felt lucky to still have her job.

Then, she received a $4,000 hospital bill.

Alicia didn’t have $4,000, as she had just depleted her savings and was still recovering from the paycheck she’d missed while recuperating from her surgery. Alicia had no idea what she would do.

Before the accident, Alicia had been saving for college, but now college would have to be put on hold. She was working tons of overtime to try to pay off the medical bill, and the stress of her new situation was causing her to lose sleep and stress eat. Her childhood acne even began to return.

As her physical condition deteriorated, so did her mental condition. The extra hours at work made Alicia feel lonely and isolated from her friends. She was also missing out on the family activities that she loved so much and getting depressed over her future, as she had no idea how she would ever be able to attend college. Alicia grew self-conscious about her acne and stopped going out to see friends even when she had the time, further entrenching her loneliness.

A year after the accident, Alicia’s life was in shambles. She still hadn’t been able to save up the $4,000 to pay off her medical bill, and the hospital had sent it to collections. Her credit was in the toilet, and she had trouble sleeping because the stress-related to her finances kept her up at night. She didn’t have the energy to exercise, and she was growing more and more depressed by the day.

And the worst part was: it wasn’t even her fault.

The wrong place at the wrong time

Dozens of other drivers had driven that same road that night and made it home safely–Alicia was simply the unlucky soul chosen as the black ice’s victim. It could have been anyone, but it was her.

While this story is, fortunately, entirely fictional, people like Alicia do see their lives spin out of control every day when they experience trauma to one of the three categories of health. They’re like an airplane, with two wings and a fin, each crucial to the airplane’s health. When one wing is damaged, the entire airplane’s ability to fly safely is impacted; there is no isolating the damage. When one component suffers, they all do, and with airplanes, that means falling out of the sky and crashing.

With people, it often only takes one obstacle for a person to start heading down a dangerous path: get appendicitis and find yourself dealing with a huge medical bill; lose your job and sink into a depression, experience a severe anxiety episode and end up in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. It happens every single day.

But Peachy is here to change that by simplifying the medical bill payment process, making payments more manageable, and helping patients improve their credit scores.

How is Peachy changing the status quo?

When your provider signs up with Peachy, you'll be introduced to a whole new medical bill payment process. With Peachy, when a medical bill is available, you get a text allowing you to easily pay your bill in full or quickly set up a payment plan. Then, once you’ve paid your bill, we will report the payment to the credit bureaus. It’s that simple.

Medical bills are no longer only a threat to hurt your credit score–with Peachy, they become tools to help it. It’s a winning solution on so many levels.

And while medical bills aren’t the only source of financial stress in life, we know how big an impact they can have. Peachy is excited to make your burden lighter by enabling you to pay your bills seamlessly from your phone. Hopefully, in the process, it helps you sleep better, feel less stressed, and improve your credit score–in turn, making you more whole.

Because health is not financial, physical, or mental, it’s all three. Peachy knows that and wants to make you healthier by enabling your finances to be simpler, more manageable, and less stressful. To start using Peachy to pay your medical bills, refer your provider here.