Retirement Economics IV – Happiness the Ultimate Insurance

by | May 2, 2013 | Archives

See why happiness is the ultimate health insurance and how to have it.

ecuador parade

Ecuadorian indigenous enjoying an Ecuador Parade. Click on photo to better see them smile!

There are a lot of parades in Ecuador.  They really have fun. One would not think of parades as a form of health care… yet as you’ll see below evidence suggests they are.

A reader recently sent this note.   Gary – thanks so much for all your wonderful info.  I have a thought that keeps bothering me.  From what I have heard the healthcare in Ecuador and other countries like Panama is very good and very affordable – one of the reasons so many of us are considering leaving the US.

In the US – it seems basically the insurance companies have ruined our healthcare system – taken practices away from doctors so that now they are factories and in fact we are losing doctors because of it.  Aren’t we bringing this dangerous western system into these countries?  They have worked just fine and affordably without insurance – now the practices are going to need to hire staff to keep up with the paperwork – etc – we’re inflicting this ruinous system onto Latin America. Why can’t we just leave well enough alone – it seems to me our need for insurance, which we are running from in the US – is going to change things in Ecuador?

My reply was.  Thanks. I agree with your thoughts.  Personally I have never had and never will (other than what the gvt imposes) health insurance. I hate the idea. I’m too much a Scot. If I paid out all that money I would have to get sick to recoup the cash.

Plus I believe that the concept of health insurance is a major contributor to the deterioration of health and health care.

This is why I write so much about natural health.

However I also have a responsibility to help readers live in Ecuador. That’s why we are called and I cannot ignore the fact that a lot of readers disagree with my view.  Those insurance companies have been there for decades before the expat rush and are for all Ecuadorians so they would be there whether I write about them or not.

Merri and I have never had health insurance. We have spent our money on being healthy instead… investing in better food, food supplements, and numerous purification and balancing therapies.

Our logic is that our health is in a big part what we make it and whatever costs we have are not reduced by adding layers of extra cost… like insurance administration.  Our belief is that we do not have to be caught up in this loop of negativity when we pursue our passions through careers.

The careers we create in our 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s can benefit from our greatest experience and the growth of wisdom.  These can be our pinnacle careers…  the best ones that earn more… are truly fulfilling and provide a greater service to mankind.

The least expensive health care is direct, patient to health care provider who knows the patient well.   Later you see something even better and usually cheaper… having fun.

Under the current US system medical costs continue to rise and everyone (except perhaps the insurance companies) seem unhappy.

Business suffers because medical insurance has grown to be the most expensive, employer provided health benefit.

Because, whether we like it or not, we live in a global community it is harder and harder for American companies to compete with foreign companies that have less expensive health care.
The high cost of medical insurance is often a major reason cited for company layoffs, and outsourcing of jobs. In America health insurance can easily cost $700-1000 a month yet in China or Taiwan the cost is closer to $20 a month for health care that is as good as in the US.

Doctors and health care providers do not like it either. The insurance system questions and interferes with their decisions and creates costly overheads that drive their fees up.

This puts health care providers under pressure to see more patients.  This reduces the quality of care and leads to unhappy patients and litigation which in turn increases costs even more.

Plus patients do not appear to benefit. Many indicators show that the US  is one of the sickest industrialized nations.  The US has more chronic obesity, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease than any other country in the world, on a per capita basis.

One of the messages posted at this site in 2006 said:

We prefer health self reliance. This means not relying on governments for our health care, security or prosperity. Government systems will simply not provide the kinds of health care that past generations have received in the West.

The system will be strained to, and beyond breaking point by natural disasters, mass migration and the strain on ecosystems and national infrastructure. Self reliance means excelling in the basic survival skills of our time.  People should know how to operate in high tech environments but also the fundamentals of ‘old tech.’ Our children should therefore know how to use both computers and grow their own food.

This is an interesting year that can tell us a lot about business and investing.  Special boomer birthdays are coming this year. Mine is one. I am among the first wave of certified Baby Boomer and reach 60 along with a mass of other, born right after the war, kids.

This age thing means little to me. Another birthday here at Merrily Farms is far more important…and telling our family’s special friend (we call her Suzuki) turns twenty. Here she is.

Merri gave Suzuki as a birthday present on my 40th. (It was meant for my son and me to enjoy ourselves out on our lease.) 20 is old for a car! I suspect they age about four years to one compared to humans.

Suzuki is an icon that represents so much that we can learn about life, business and investing. Let me explain.

First she represents a lesson in good health. Health is the basis for all wealth whether earned from business or investing. This is a lesson we all know but also regularly ignore.

At 20 Suzuki looks almost new and runs like a top in part because she only has 59,864 honest to God, one owner (me) miles.  I say this not trying to sell her.  She’ll never be sold.

This lesson is let’s not try to wear ourselves out!  The long haul, slow and steady, really does work best.  If we are given 100,000 miles of existence we can drive them in 60 years or 100 years. The slower journey is easier to see and enjoy.

Suzuki can tell us even more. For example she is the focus of our family. Like many modern families, ours is scattered to the four winds. Mom, my baby sister Sandy, daughter Cinda and her husband David and their daughter are in Portland. Cheri, her husband Shawn and our grandson Garren are in Florida, Jake is in Leeds, Ele in London and Francesca is headed to Swaziland for a year.

But Suzuki holds us all together with memories. The entire family has had and continue to have adventures in Suzuki… in deserts, swamps and backwood’s mountain roads. Whenever we jump in the whole family is there. We are brought together even if it seems that its just me sitting there.

This remind us that its quality of time together that counts. Modern families move and shift more and more. Quantity of time together may diminish, Fortunately even the smallest drop of caring love is so everlasting that it can be packed and carried any and everywhere. It supports and lifts in every way.

Good times are everlasting experiences that are shared regardless of time and space. This entanglement bonds and unites families just as effectively (and at times even more so) than any physical event. So listen to Suzuki.  Quality, not volume, is what counts… among families and really everything! If the world remembered this, the world would be in a better place than it is now.

Suzuki also just had an inner purification, a rejuvenation from the inside out. Here is her new interior that makes her really attractive even though her outside paint job still holds the scars, dents and scratches of so many memories past. I never want to fix the dented front fender where Jake learned not to drive close.  Nor do I want to remove the scratch when Fran was learning to drive or fix a tear in the roof liner that reminds me of a trip with Cinda through an Everglades swamp.

Suzuki’s lesson here is to focus on the inner factors. Goodness will shine out. Focus on developing core, inner beauty, internal assets and don’t worry to much about the outer skin. Good inner workings are what really count.

As a four wheel drive-go anywhere car-Suzuki also reminds us of mankind’s need for adventure and challenge. Once the Western world improved its road system so we can drive anywhere and everywhere without a single bump in the road, four wheel drive off-road vehicles became the top selling rage. This says something about human nature that can help us invest in wise ways.

Plus Suzuki at 20 is a Boomer Japanese car. She came of age as we early boomers turned 40. At every stage of life, we Boomers have not changed industry, we totally transformed it. We Boomers didn’t just rebel against deteriorating, gas guzzling muscle cars made in Detroit. We turned the U.S. automobile industry upside down by buying Japanese. We turned Made in Japan and Germany Lexus, Mercedes and BMWs our luxury cars. Good bye Cadillac!

Then of all things we began to drive trucks and turned everything upside down. For example we stopped doing fun things that gave us exercise. We created a whole new health and fitness industry instead. We stopped getting exercise through play. Instead we made exercise work even called it “working out” and turned our work cars, 4 wheel drives (like Suzuki) and pickups into instruments of play! Figure that one out.

Suzuki reminds us of the richness of this era that is so wealthy, she could be a third and even fourth car in the family just mostly sitting around waiting for us to play in her and “muck about”. And she is a reminder about value and inflation. Today, even with her dents, scratches and scars, she is worth more in the market place than her price when she was new.

This economic inflation reminder is important because we Boomers are about to transform inflation as we have so much else.

A BBC article entitled “Baby boom proves economic power” explains how when it says: “The first of the Baby Boomers are turning 60 this year – and the BBC is running a series of articles and interviews to mark the milestone. Here the BBC News website’s economics reporter Steve Schifferes considers the generation as an economic force. The baby boom generation had a profound effect on the US economy – and was itself a product of a remarkable economic boom. The baby boom began at the end of World War II, when returning veterans turned to marriage and raising families. But its origins were as much to do with economics as with the end of the war.”

The article goes on to explain how Boomers created the suburban house building boom – expanded education – developed unique tastes for teens in music, cloths and dance – brought opportunity to blacks and rural poor – created a sexual revolution – rejected conformity – embraced equality for women and shifted preferences for immediate spending over savings that reduced support for public investment, which has had a long-term negative effect on prosperity.

Then the article outlines why Boomers will also transform inflation when it says: “Nevertheless, the accumulation of asset-based wealth, particularly in houses, was greater among this generation than any time in history. The Pensions Crisis Starting in 2010, the baby boom generation will reach 65 and start to retire. Over the next 20 years, the number of people reaching retirement age is set to rise dramatically. Not only are more people retiring, they are also living longer. And this bulge now poses an enormous problem to pension systems not just in the US, but in many other developed countries where the baby boom started later. In the US state pension system, Social Security is coming under increasing pressure as its accumulated surplus is running down. The official estimate is that it will run out of money – unless taxes are raised – some time between 2030 and 2040. And spending on healthcare is under even more strain, with spending on the US Medicare system rising even faster.”

What can we do to break out of such a downward spiral?

The first step that can take us out of this rat race is to lighten up!  Have some fun.

A Sydney Morning Herald article entitled “Happiness is key to longevity” supports the importance of the link between happiness and good health.  Here is an excerpt:  New research shows being happy can add several years to life.

“Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill,” says Ruut Veenhoven of Rotterdam’s Erasmus University in a study to be published in September.

After reviewing 30 studies carried out worldwide over periods ranging from one to 60 years, the Dutch professor said the effects of happiness on longevity were “comparable to that of smoking or not”.

That special flair for feeling good, he said, could lengthen life by between 7.5 and 10 years.

The finding brings a vital new piece to a puzzle currently being assembled by researchers worldwide on just what makes us happy – and on the related question of why people blessed with material wealth in developed nations no longer seem satisfied with their lives.

Growth in material wealth adds little to happiness once buying power hits $US10,000 ($11,500) a year per head, according to such research.

But happiness can be bolstered by friendship and human community, as well as larger social factors such as freedom, democracy, effective government institutions and rule of law.

In Veenhoven’s findings, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, a scientific publication founded in 2000, the strongest effect on longevity was found among a group of US nuns followed through their adult life – perhaps reflecting the feel-good factor from belonging to a close-knit stress-free community with a sense of purpose.

This is why our mantra for decades has been to “turn your passion into profit”,  do what you love and learn how to profit from this.

Benjamin Franklin’s quote is so well worn that I hesitate printing it yet again… but appropriate.  “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

True insurance comes self reliance and such freedom embraces change in a path that leads each of us to our own unique destiny.   One way to accomplish this is by writing to sell.


How We Can Help

We offer an online course.  Self Fulfilled – How to Write to Sell for $299. Enroll here.

Even Better!  We offer a year long program including attendance to a Writer’s Camp.  You receive the  online course “Self Fulfilled – How to Write to Sell” free and save $299.

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What other readers have shared about us Gary & Merri Scott

Sydney Morning Herald Happiness is key to longevity