Lowering Health Care Costs is Easy and Cheap

We’re so focused right now on cutting health care costs and wasted spending, but there is one simple thing that we can all do to stay healthier.  It’s free and easy, but many people skip this simple step throughout their day.  In “The Easiest, Cheapest Way to Stay Healthy,” Lisa Collier Cool of Yahoo! Health says that washing your hands is the best way to fight colds, flu, and many other contagious diseases.  In fact, a 20 second hand washing can cut your risk of these illnesses in more than half.  What a simple way to cut down on health care expenses related to doctors visits, prescriptions, and other costs that may be unnecessary.

The Centers for Disease Control has actually estimated that one million people would not die every year if hand washing was simply a regular habit by everyone.  One million people!!  Your hands actually have 500,000 bacteria per square centimeter, bacteria which when spread causes missed days at work and school, in addition to the added health care costs.  Of the infectious diseases out there, 80% of them are spread through touch.  Kids who wash their hands regularly miss 1/4 fewer days than those who do not.  Navy recruits who washed their hands five times a day for a study had almost half of the respiratory infections of those who did not.  There have been many other study results showing significant decreases in illnesses with regular hand washing.

Do you wash your hands after going to the bathroom in a public place? When asked, 91% of people claimed that they wash their hands after using public restrooms.  But a study in six airports across the United States showed that only 17% of women and 26% of men really did wash their hands after going to the bathroom.  Gross.  In a secret observation, it was found that only 10% of PICU doctors washed their hands between patients, even though 73% of the doctors said they washed their hands.  I know that we are all busy, but taking 20 seconds to wash your hands can save you money, time lost from work, and countless other hassles.

CDC recommendations for when to wash your hands include after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, both before and after preparing food, before you eat, after you touch garbage or any animal, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.  Yes, it seems like a lot, but remember the consequences of spreading or getting some type of illness or disease.  Some tips include taking off rings before washing, using clean water to wash and rinsing with running water, rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds and rubbing dry on a clean towel to remove remaining germs.  Interestingly, the CDC says that you don’t need to use antibacterial soap because it doesn’t work any better and can even make the bacteria resistant to that microbial ingredient.  Bottom line, wash your hands to stay healthy and lower health care costs overall.

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