The Affordable Care Act has spurred much debate since its debut during the Obama Administration. The basic premise that has fueled the controversy of the Affordable Care Act is that many feel free health insurance is an inherent right for every U.S. citizen while others feel it is a privilege. This is interesting because the constitution does not address this issue directly.
Whether you feel healthcare is a right or a privilege, everyone seems to agree that the healthcare system is “sick” or in other terms utterly “broken”. As of today, over forty million people have no health insurance and even more are under-insured with high deductibles and co-payments.
In addition to this enormous lack of coverage, the U.S. spends a great deal more per capita on healthcare than any other nation, and healthcare costs continue rise over 10% annually. Incredibly, the fact is that the U.S. spends almost twice as much per person on healthcare as any other country, and our healthcare outcomes lag behind many other nations.
There is an extremely poor return on investment. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks thirty-seventh in terms of health system performance. The private health insurance system in the U.S. is considered to be the most costly, wasteful, complicated, and bureaucratic in the world. How does one of the greatest countries in the world arrive at our current situation?
Simply, it is because of; our freedom, our desire to make money, and our expectations to have the best because it is our “right”.
Those of us with insurance, often provided at no-cost to the employee in the past and who now pay part of the premium, now consider medical care a “freebie” with no cost consequences. Have a severe headache? Sure, run to the emergency room, and we demand a Computerized Tomography (CT scan)….bump our head and we end up with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Hospitals are a business, and we feed into the fallacy that a new hospital is a better hospital. Hospitals want to fill beds, especially Intensive Care Unit beds, and aggressively market the newest and most expensive technology, beautifully performing tests, and treatments that we often do not need. They get paid to run tests and push patient volume; that is where they make money.
It gets worse. Insurance companies and drug companies primarily care about making money for their owners and senior executives. Look at the commercials we see every day; drug companies constantly push use of their most expensive brand name drugs when generic equivalents exist.
Is traditional medicine making us sick? It sure is! However, we cannot blame the healthcare system alone; chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.
it appears we have the “cure” for healthcare inside of us…
Sadly, the truth is that we lack self control and accountability for our personal behaviors that directly impact our health. The four modifiable health risk behaviors that we just fail to improve are lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. They are responsible for much of the high healthcare cost, illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases. So, it appears we have the “cure” for healthcare inside of us; we only need to release our spirit of health within our families, our children, our friends, and ourselves.
It is time to stop blaming the Affordable Care Act or any other “system” that would have taken its place and is time we are accountable for our own health through our own actions. Author Mark Twain may have said it best:
“The only way to keep your health is
to eat what you don’t want,
drink what you don’t like,
and do what you’d druther not.”
~ Mark Twain ~