The High Cost of Getting the Flu

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about a huge outbreak of the flu.  With this reportedly one of the worst outbreaks in recent years, from what has been noted by some news organizations, it’s understandable that this is getting a lot of attention.

I don’t know about you, but I can remember a few past episodes of the flu even though they were years ago.  One time, in particular, was marked by 104+ degree fever and missing 3 days of work.  When I returned, it was only out of pressure.  The whole experience really served as one great example of why it sometimes takes getting sick to really value your health.  I haven’t forgotten that time.  I would have given anything at that time to end that temporary misery!

This gets me thinking again about health and money, which I periodically discuss here as you might know.  Specifically, in this case, the cost of getting the flu for many of us.

Of course, the most important thing is the actual misery that we go through when dealing with a really bad case of the flu, as well as the impact that has on our responsibilities to others.  However, secondarily, there is also the impact on our finances.

Missing Work Due to the Flu

As I mentioned above, many years ago I had to miss 3 days with the flu.  I was right out of college, and was known to be a huge sports fan.  I happened to miss days right at the beginning of March Madness, which got me some teasing over the phone when I called in.  Keep in mind, there was no working from home or smartphones then (yeah, I guess I’m dating myself a bit here).  Anyway, the teasing was probably good natured, but I knew by the tone of the conversation that there was a hint of pressure to come back.  I’ve shared a story about this place in the past, involving an unpaid bonus, so if you’ve read that you may get the idea of why I might have been a bit concerned.

Companies don’t like dealing with people missing work, that’s the bottom line.  I have been salaried, but for some people, it could actually mean hourly wages or freelance work lost.  That’s no fun! 

Also, if you’re burning your time off, it’s valuable time that’s lost.  Those days off can be precious!

Losing Time for Personal Projects

Have a list of things that you need to get done in your life? These could be tasks around the house, or other projects.  By getting the flu and being home on the sofa, you’re delaying getting your own things done.  Hopefully none of the things being put off cost money, but you never know – they might!

Doctor Visits

For most people, a visit to the doctor isn’t free.  Even if it’s just a matter of some kind of copay, you’re still paying.  If someone doesn’t have insurance, those costs could be much higher.  With health care costs a big burden for many people these days, who wants to spend more money on it?  Whether it’s $25, $50, $100, or more – such expenses can add up


Perhaps you might just be dealing with OTC products.  Or, maybe things get bad enough that you end up needing a prescription for something.  Either way, you just might be spending some money on things that may give you some comfort in dealing with the illness or maybe even speeding up your recovery.  Perhaps this will be $10, maybe $20 – or it could cost even more.

What to do?  Well, I’m no doctor (and no, I don’t play one on TV), but I got a flu shot and have been fine so far.  Not sure that guarantees anything, but presumably that gives someone a better chance to avoid problems, right?  That and washing hands/using hand sanitizer has been my approach.  Not too time consuming, but it’s a small price to pay to ourselves what might be a better chance to avoid getting sick.  Not to mention avoid the financial aspects of it!

My Questions for You

While of course health is most important, do you ever think of the financial costs of being sick?

Have you ever had to take a few days off work for a bad case of the flu?

What steps do you take to put yourself in better position to avoid getting such an illness?


  1. says

    I haven’t had the flu for quite a while, but I remember telling my boss when I called in sick when I did last have it that I’d never felt worse in my life. I think I was out of work for 3 days. I might have been out longer but the weekend came along.

    We work hard at our house to avoid the flu and other contagious illnesses. We keep hand cleaner just inside the front door. We use it immediately whenever we return home from the real (and very dirty!) world. And we ask guests to use it if they show any sign of illness. I make a conscious effort to keep my hands away from my face. When I am out in the world, I try to avoid touching things like handrails and doorknobs or handles which have undoubtedly been touched by ill people and likely haven’t been cleaned for years.

    • Squirrelers says

      Kurt – it seems like you’ve learned from the experience, as those steps you’re taking seem to be pretty extensive. In a good way, I mean. I know what you mean about avoiding touching handrails, etc that you know have been touched by tons of people yet never or rarely get cleaned.

  2. says

    My wife who is a RN always makes sure that my children and I get flu shots. It was intended to avoid the illness. We all have sick time , but the flu is far worse. Being older (over 65) and around children, it is a necessity!

    • Squirrelers says

      krantcents – yes, at a certain age it seems like it could be even more important. Combine older age with the presence of very young kids, and I see your point.

  3. says

    You’re lucky that you only missed three days of work. People at my company have been getting knocked out for five to ten days.

    The best advice I can give is to suggest that everyone make time to exercise regularly, start eating better, and get the flu shot. Start doing those things and you’ll notice that you get sick less frequently and that when you do get sick you recover quicker.

    • Squirrelers says

      It does seem like it’s all a system, in that if we take care of ourselves overall, it may help us get better quicker. Not a doctor, but that seems sensible!

  4. says

    I also get a flu shot. I could take time off work if I needed to, but it would create more work for the other staff. The thing I’m most concerned about is passing the flu along to my elderly parents, who could really be knocked out by it in the winter.

    • Squirrelers says

      I can appreciate the sentiment of not wanting to get elderly parents sick, that is a responsible approach to it.

  5. says

    I think of the financial costs of being sick all of the time. I can do my job even with the flu, but not well. And when I start losing my vision because of a migraine, I cuss up a storm while I hurry to take caffeine and aspirin to hurry along the getting better part. Overall, if I don’t work, I don’t make money. So not working for more than a day or two isn’t even an option…

    • Squirrelers says

      I can see how not having vacation days to take could impact one’s approach to taking a day off. Best to avoid sickness then!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>