Good health linked to income

People’s state of health appears to be directly related to their income level, according to a study which shows that better educated individuals are more aware of precautionary measures and have better access to specialized medical services. The study, prepared by the National Center for Social Research (EKKE) and seen by Sunday’s Kathimerini, shows that 15 percent of those belonging to the lower income groups describe their health as being «bad to very bad.» On the other hand, only 8 percent of people who are in higher income groups gave their health such a poor rating. The level of income that placed households in higher or lower groups was not clear. Experts believe that wealthier individuals enjoy better health as higher levels of education help to make them more aware of precautionary steps, while they are also better informed about the health services at their disposal. Individuals on the lower end of the income scale are less likely to take preventative health measures and resort to hospitals only once their problem displays symptoms. Additionally, data showed that low income earners rely more on medicines as it is an easier recourse than consulting a doctor. «The problem is related, up to a point, to the lack of proper health coverage of the lower income groups which are also shut out of public welfare services,» the study said. «Alternatively, the limited possibility poorer households have of resorting to public and private healthcare results in them seeking the easy solution at a pharmacy where they can obtain most of the medicines they need without additional costs,» the study added. Monthly household spending on healthcare shot up by 50 percent over 17 years. In 1981-82, households spent an average of 61.98 euros per month on health, while this amount rose to 94.58 euros in 1998-99. Spending on dental services takes the largest chunk of health costs (38.6 percent), while pharmacy costs demand 18.6 percent of the budget.