Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caring for one's Health vs. Funding Health Care

Hi Positive Eaters,

I posted on this subject long before it became a huge political issue. Today, there is a vast divide in this country regarding the Health Reform Bill that will potentially be signed into law by President Obama. The gist of my earlier post revolved around personal responsibility for one's health and how that was the best health care one could provide themselves with. The issue is grown into a debate about the economics and politics of funding health care rather than discussion about caring for one's actual health.

Simply put, the health care system only kicks in when something is wrong with you. Sure there are annual physicals and trivial check ups...but these are certainly not what is dragging the health care system down. The concern about the recent bill centers around the enormous rise in government spending and the drastic effect a public option may cause in insurance premiums, quality of care, cost to business and a slew of other concerns. Many of these concerns are warranted while others are merely products an Us versus Them dichotomy inherent in our political system.

The enormous cost of the bill makes this a salient economic issue. Unfortunately, I am not an economist. There are very talented economists who say a public option will save trillions and others who say it will drive America deeper into debt. This is an important argument to have. I am wondering why no one is talking about the real cause of the health care crisis?

The national debt did not cause the health care crisis. The state of health in America caused the crisis. I have seen estimates as low as 37% and as high as 61% for the amount of health care resources being allocated to treat conditions that are completely preventable. If you take the middle of that range we are looking at 50% or half of all the money being spent on health care today being used for conditions that can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. There are many more numbers that support this, such as eight out the top ten causes of death in America are diseases that are related to personal lifestyle. The truth is we don't really need the numbers, we can simply observe the sedentary lifestyles being fueled by fast, cheap and processed food. This is the heart of the health care conundrum.

I recently read an article about a guy who is powering his entire house with solar electric panels. This is becoming quite common for residences and businesses across the world. What was different about this man is he spent the last 11 years making his home as energy efficient as possible while remaining "on the grid." When it came time to convert his house to solar power it was affordable and relatively easy...simply because his home needed very little power to begin with. Does this appear to be a random tangent or can you see the relationship between the two issues. Let me try one a little closer to home. One of the first cultures to practice organized health care was the ancient Chinese. There doctors received payment only when their patients reached full recovery. They were paid to keep people well, not simply to treat symptomatic responses. With diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer being some of the Center for Disease Controls top priorities...what is being done to bring about wellness in our country. There is a lot of chatter about funding a system that only responds when these diseases become present.

Public funding of health care may indeed have a bright future...but only in an America where people take their health into their own hands. The concern should not be for "who is going to fund the health care" it should be "how are we going to care for our health." This is possible for each of us every single day. We are given upon birth great power and great control of our own bodies. Your physical body is yours to pilot through life and you are given complete sovereignty of it. This post is not about costs, premiums, taxes or political allegiance. I care about individual health, mine and yours. I want you to realize that it is something within your own power. The concerns out there are very real and I do acknowledge them...but they are all secondary to our physical state of well being.

The recession was a great time to look at the value in the non material parts of our lives. We learned to receive abundance and gratitude for how they filled up our lives. This tumultous time provides us the opportunity to appreciate the only material thing you are granted unwavering posession of, the miraculous machine, wrapped in flesh and bone that is you.

Stay Positive,



Rob Brennan said...

I am very pleased to see you use the phrase "personal responsibility" a couple of times in your post. It is the at the heart of most any political debate in our country today. Too often do we look to our government to take care of us; whether it be health care, welfare, social security, etc. Under the Constitution we are guaranteed "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness", which one must take upon themselves to attain.

jbartlett said...

You nailed this one!

Matthew Germain said...

Thanks for the responses guys. "Change" is a popular political phrase...but it starts where you stand.

Anonymous said...

Can we send this on to the President and all of the voting representatives of the people?

Trish said...

Great post on a very important and rather costly issue. I teach in an urban setting whereby the students and parents have such unhealthy life habits, that they are already destined for ill-health throughout their lives. The long term impact on our country is astronomical, unless drastic measures are undertaken, very, very soon.