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Climate change will up the cost of staying healthy

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On September 20, thousands of people around the world took to the streets to voice their concerns about the impact of climate change. And last Friday millions of Canadians walked out of classrooms and workplaces to spur government, businesses, and citizens alike to take stronger action while we still can.

Climate change is not a new thing. David Suzuki, a Canadian jewel, has been warning me about this my whole life. Somehow, I believed that climate change would happen in the far distant future. It wouldn’t impact me or my children or even my children’s children. But suddenly, the threat is real.

Devastating hurricanes and record-breaking heat are a testament to the reality of climate change. The voices of the students striking for the planet reinforce what we are seeing in nature.

As an employee benefits consultant, a big part of my job is to help my clients mitigate risk. Today, we face increased risk to physical and mental health from the changes around us. People are becoming more anxious with every natural disaster and this will increase the cost of health benefits. Increasing global temperatures will change the spread of disease, in part due to the changing patterns of mosquito populations. We will need to address the impact of climate change on Health plans and also on Disability plans and even Life Insurance due to changing morbidity and mortality risk. Retirement plans are not immune either, as climate change impacts the economy and the health of individuals as they age.

Climate change is really the big thing. It will touch all of us in one way or another during our lifetime. And it is overwhelming. So many of our lifestyle choices are threatened, that we think we cannot change enough to make a difference. But we can and we must. For our own generation, for future generations and, if that doesn’t inspire you, to contain costs under the Health plan.

Use public transit or walk if you can. Take your own mug. Eat local. Plant a tree. In the words of Greta Thunberg “do everything you can, with everyone you can, to change everything you can”.

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