Further education linked to improved health

    Why it pays to get smart

    A number of studies suggest a causal link between studying further and leading a healthier life. Also known as the education-health gradient, this concept offers another excellent reason to pursue lifelong learning – as learning may well contribute to prolonging one’s life.

    “Education has been identified as one of the key determinants of health, along with factors such as nutrition, living conditions and access to quality healthcare,” says Denelle Morais, product development manager for the innovative Zurreal wellbeing and rewards programme.

    “There are a number of theories about the relationship between education and long-term health, including research that points to healthier behaviours being more prevalent among individuals with post-high school education.”

    One such study, the Education Pays study conducted in 2012 in the United States, found a positive correlation between education levels and healthier life choices, such as regular exercise and abstaining from smoking. A quarter of those who graduated high school and did not study further were smokers, compared to a fifth of those with an undergraduate degree and only eight percent of those with four years of tertiary education.

    “Of course, this does not mean that those who are less educated are inherently less healthy or less able to be health-conscious, as making lifestyle choices that promote wellness are within anyone’s reach. However, it has been suggested that people with more education may develop a greater sense of control over their lives, which in turn motivates them to be more health conscious and take measures to safeguard their health,” Morais notes.

    As the research suggests that furthering one’s education can be an important factor that contributes to health, we have designed our Zurreal Platinum programme to maximise every opportunity. Zurreal Platinum’s market-first education reward supports wellbeing by rewarding members who study further with an education bursary reward of up to R5000 per year of study.

    Members earn rewards, which are paid into the Zurreal Healthcard that can be used for health-related purchases or cashed in at the end of each year. Whether it is used to provide for the cost of healthcare or as a paid-out sum in lieu of registration fees for the next year, the education bursary supports the wellbeing and better health of all Zurreal Platinum members.

    According to Morais, there are no complicated points systems or moving goal posts for the achievement of cash-back rewards that the programme offers.

    “Many members use this clever savings tool to fund more comprehensive medical scheme cover than they may otherwise be able to afford. The incentives provided through the programme’s education bursary benefit help to offset the costs of studying, without compromising on quality healthcare.”

    In total, members can earn up to  R28 500 per year in cash-back rewards, and also have access to a range of useful additional services including telephonic financial counselling and tax advice, legal advice, health advice from nurses in a number of South African languages, a telephone trauma counselling service and online health advice from a team of dieticians, physiotherapists and life coaches to help members cope with stress and its root causes.

    “We believe that the education bursary benefit offered through Zurreal Platinum will help to bring further education, and hopefully the associated health benefits, within reach of more of our members. Building our store of knowledge is fulfilling in its own right, and also helps us to grow our personal potential by laying the groundwork for pursuing our dreams,” Morais concludes.