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Why do the poor get sick?

I don't mean the Homeless.
I'm not talking about the homeless or very poor who are subjected to more uncleanly situations. I am just saying that it seems to me that the poorer someone is, the more often they are sick. I don't live in a million dollar home or anything, but I am fairly well off. What I see is that the people above me seem a lot healthier than me, and the people below me seem less healthy. Why is that?
Medical care 04.Jan.2004 21:19

George Bender

Studies have show that the quality of medical care people get is proportional to their income.

two reasons 04.Jan.2004 21:43

Ben Maras

A.) they're usually more exposed to the diseases

B.) health care, since we haven't yet embraced the common sense idea of universal health care.

well 04.Jan.2004 22:36


Poor nutrition, stress, lack of sleep, increased likelihood of exposure to environmental toxins (work and/or residentially) all lead to compromised immune systems.

Check out this Health Olympics page:

is the economic gap between the rich and the poor.
With greater economic inequality comes worse health
lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates.

The U.S. spends the most money on health care,
but ranks 26th in life expectancy.

Alc -cigs 04.Jan.2004 22:39


The main reason the poor get sick more often is they eat more junk food, abuse drugs and alcohol more and smoke more. These all help to weaken the immune system.

are you being serious? 04.Jan.2004 22:39


No offense meant, but I feel stupider for having even read your question. Obviously, medicine in the US is privatized, hence capitalistic, hence those with more money receive better medical care (i.e. better physicians, better facilities, better equipment, etc.)

Ignorance, Education and not enough Tough Love 04.Jan.2004 22:53


Among the poor I think you'll find:

1)Higher incidence of smoking
2)Less likely do get regular exercise
3)Less healthy diet
4)Less Education

- Universal health care won't help the poor with the above items. It will only address corrective medicine like diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Here's a head scratcher:

If hunger is such a problem then why do virtually all studies show a higher incidence of obesity among the poor?

classism showing 05.Jan.2004 01:16


the poor have less access to healthcare.
Not all poor people are uneducated, nor do they all smoke. The wealthy can smoke a higher grade of tobacco and use a higher grade of drugs.
People with less money tend to be heavier because the kind of food they can afford -- lots of carbs and not so many fresh vegestables and meat -- is more likely to put weight on.
Poor people may in fact get more excerciseas they are often stuck in dead end jobs that often require physical effort and they don't have nice cars to drive around in so they walk or bike.
I was surprised to see so many classist/sterotypical ideas come onto the board.
If you can't afford a doctor or regular prescriptions or dentists or vitamins or naturopaths or organic food etc. etc. you don't have as much protection as the wealthy.
when my kids were little and i didn't have much money I bought what I could afford. there wasn't a choice.
Poor people are like everyone else except without money!!!!

Suggested reading 05.Jan.2004 07:08


Read Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed: on (NOT) Getting by in America" Investigative journalism about the working poor -- highly stressed, unable to afford nutritious meals, health care, decent housing, preventive medicine; no time or money for the gym. Most working 1 1/2 or two jobs just to make ends meet. These are WalMart workers, waitresses, housecleaners = service workers.

Nickel and Dimed
Nickel and Dimed

Actually... 05.Jan.2004 09:18


it is a compilation of many factrs that contribute to ill health, including being under or uninsured. Being poor often means less time to care for children, less oversight and often a poorer level of education. This is not necessarily classicism, but fact. Lack of nutritional education, plus lack of money means poor choices of foods. These people are eating corporate industrial foods processed with chemicals and additives. Few can afford organic. Regarding mad cow disease, the poor are more likely to buy the meats that are higher risk. The very poor may also resort to eating low grade pet foods with many qustionable additives. It may be classicism to sugest that the poor smoke, drink and partake in other risky behaviors. I grew up poor and did not. However, the poor these days are impacted by many forms of stresses, and drugs are an outlet to help manage these stresses. These are symptoms of the failures of our present form of capitalism. Being poor also leads to the stresses that result in family violence and dysfunction. I know personally how finances affect the level of anger quite directly. It is a TOTAL shame. Poorer comunities also tend to have poorer quality services and food supplies and their schools are unquestionably not as good. Of course, some of this may be intentional. The neoconservatives are trying to create an elite class of educated (private school) and the rest (public schhool) can go rot. Education is purposefully dumbed down to keep people in the dark. IMHO

people should not rely on healthcare to fix their health after they've broken it 05.Jan.2004 09:43


Gosh, most people I know personally are in excellent health, and don't normally use ANY "healthcare" that they don't administer themselves. However, they eat healthy, usually vegetarian diets, get plenty of rest / excercise, and avoid exposing themselves to health-reducing influences.

I do agree with the statements about "poor" people tending to work more than one job, having more stress in their lives, and being exposed to more risk factors often because of their employment.

I'm not trying to argue that social assistance programs aren't valid or anything of the sort. Most "poor" people I've known throughout my lifetime have smoked cigarettes and eaten crappy diets, though, and I do tend to rail against people not taking responsibility for their health choices because my own health insurance costs go up when they don't.

in my experience 05.Jan.2004 10:00


Most soup kitchens hand out large quanties of bread and baked goods like donuts. They get these donated from stores that chose to donate, rather than dispose of food products which are past their due date. Another reason for fat poor is that food stamps are more readily available than straight cash. So there's no money for any other thing but food. Also, if you are poor, you tend to have a scarcity mentality, which will lead to the consumption of food while it is there, out of fear it won't be there later.

"poor" communities are under attack 05.Jan.2004 10:27

both in rural and urban communities

It is a terrible vicious cycle, adults with poor nutrition and healthcare coupled with a lack of good prenatal care means that many poor children start out with their health severely compromised before they are even born. Issues like fetal alcohol syndrome, lead and toxics poisoning, may be higher in poor communities. This has continued for generations.
And have you ever compared the quality and variety of foods (produce, for example) available in many low-income areas, with what's for sale in upper-income neighborhoods? There's an enourmous difference.
The solution? One good start- universal healthcare- including nutrition education (which most doctors and health professionals don't care about- they'd rather give you a pill and send you on your way). Capitalism is the problem, we need socialized medicine.

The poor are sick because.... 05.Jan.2004 15:04


We're sick because:
1.We can't afford healthcare
2. We're overworked
3. We do smoke and drink, but that's just to deal with the stress of keeping afloat
4. We have to listen to asshole pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'rielly and other do nothing loads degrade us.
5. And we haven't got our act together to call a General Strike and kick over this stinking capitalist edifice yet.

Take direct action against your boss today,
you'll be glad you did:-),


CaptainPlanet isn't worried 05.Jan.2004 19:16


He comes from the neocon planet of "I've got mine".
Hey when all of the neglected, rejected poor have outlived their usefulness, CP and his ilk can fire up the old cremation ovens.

What are you talking about? 06.Jan.2004 11:11


I am poor? I do not get sick. If I get sick everything falls apart. I do not get sick. Your comments are prejudiced. Not every person who is poor has the same experience so why are you all speaking this way. I smoke, i'm missing teeth, i have no medical, when my child was younger i was food "rich" so yea. the only money we had extra was always food money (THANK YOU). I sold my copy of nickle and Dimed for cash. A person who actually purchased books she desired to read gave it to me. If the author talks about no money for the gym then she is probably not on the same page as this poor woman.
Quit chattering about people like they are different than you. You could be poor if one sickness takes you down. Just quit chit chating like this here. Mainstream media does a fine job of labeling and treating poor like they are different than others. My original post, which i probably submitted incorrectly didn't post but i had many lines from your's all words pulled out to show how classist you all are being. The two i will bother to retype. CP sez he is poor but says that people that don't live just like him, his perseption of healthy raise his insurance premiums??? and that the poor spend less lime with their children? not a true statement. Please people, don't buy into it. Read a book and educate yourself...not neccessarilly Nickle and Dimed either.
My child is fine, not even close to the statistics they spurt out night and day about chilgren raised in a poor envionment. stop the cycle of abuse. start with yourself.

Ever think? 06.Jan.2004 14:23


Ever think that some people are poor BEACUSE they get sick? Do yall have any idea how much it costs someone to get sick for a prolonged period? Not only in medical bills, but in lost wages. Then someone goes into debt under the bills due to lack of funding. And then they have intrest up the ass on it. You get sick for a month or two and the effects arent worked out for years.

CaptainPlanet IS worried 06.Jan.2004 14:54


I'm worried that if I were to have, for example, cancer in my later years (an almost unavoidable result of living in a city with a lot of air pollution), I would either have no health insurance because of the high cost, or I would be paying for it with most of my income.

I was pointing out that for most people, their health of lack of health shouldn't be dependent on what kind of professional "healthcare" they get, but the choices they make. Your post, "because", is illogical. Cremation ovens? What in hell are you talking about? My post was about making healthy vs. unhealthy choices, and the effect it has on health insurance costs.

Choices 06.Jan.2004 19:02

George Bender

I'm all for healthy choices and it does make a difference, but sooner or later we will all get a serious, probably chronic illness, and then the quality of your health, or even if you will keep living, depends very much on professional healthcare. As the song says, "don't think it won't happen just because it hasn't happened yet."

I hardly ever saw a doctor until I was 57. Then I got cancer. I'm still here, six years later, but only because of around $50,000 worth of medical treatment. If it happens when you're unemployed, and the safety net doesn't come through, you've got a big problem. Been there. Which is one reason why we have to vote YES on Measure 30.

I don't know for a fact that poor people make worse health choices. I would like to see the data on that. MOST people are making poor health choices, just because they're human. After smoking, obesity is the most significant health risk in this country, and the majority of us are overweight. I'm not, and I would like to pat myself on the back and say I do something to keep my weight down, but actually it's just the metabolism I was born with.

Whenever you start comparing yourself to others and feeling virtuous, suspect bullshit.

It isn't mainly people making poor health choices that are driving up your medical insurance premiums. It's the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies and new technology. We could bring insurance costs down through a single-payer, universal, government-run medical insurance program -- a better version of Medicare, for everyone. That's how other industrialized democracies do it. It cuts costs because it drastically reduces overhead.

Don't dump on poor people; we are not the problem. If you want to see who is screwing you, look upward.