Are we entitled to affordable health care?
The question seems to be, are all Americans “entitled” to affordable health care? On my favorite NPR station this morning I heard repeated an oft mentioned description of the wonderful health care system in Canada. And it is true that once you manage to get into that system everyone seems to get great care. The issue is getting in, as some needing testing or treatment might wait six months to get in. That means Canada manages cost by controlling access to what can be afforded by the government.
All are treated equally by that system. But note that individual Canadians who can afford it spend their own money to come the US where services are really expensive but are more immediately available. And before you invest too much time looking at “free” health care in other countries, I have already done that. They are all configured a bit differently but the result is still the same. The country pays for it with some combination of higher taxes and reduced spending to service providers (availability).
In spite of fate, cost of the services provided will govern availability. There is no miraculous way to spend more without paying for it. Increasing taxes so that the government can be the provider or pay insurance premiums doesn’t seem to be very popular in the group paying taxes. Reducing payments to health care providers and pharmaceutical companies, while very attractive to consumers, simply reduces the accessibility of providers and medications. You can confirm this by doing a bit of research into doctor and hospital availability in rural America. This is a no win, technically.
According to the report I heard, 20% of health care consumers are generating the majority of healthcare service consumption. While I’m not sure I buy a number that low, I do know that medical services today are not “preventative.” In our society these are treatment services. We are most often “sick” because our diet and lifestyle ultimately make us sick.
So as we age, the longer we mistreat our bodies, and perhaps the lower our income goes we transition from the 80% to the 20%. Then we tend to grow more and more interested in our “entitlement” to affordable health care. The issue is not entitlement. The issue, at least as I see it, is we are responsible for the diet and lifestyle (and even environment) that is making us sick. Thus we place ourselves in the position of really needing a lot of access to healthcare, healthcare being treatment (potentially ongoing and forever) that ameliorates symptoms and keep us from dying now.
Unfortunately this is just like being responsible for maintenance on our car when we don’t know beans about it. Lots of people just keep turning that key until the car fails to start. Most of us don’t know beans about our body’s requirements to maintain health either. And life’s daily, higher priority challenges seem to reduce interest – at least until the body gives out on us just like the car did. Let me confirm that for you.
I publish almost weekly a website and Facebook post on subjects that are relevant to individual diet and health. At the very best 10% of those seeing the Facebook post will actually click on the link and read the content. That means that 90% are too busy or not interested, which may actually be the same thing.
I share everyone’s concern about affordable healthcare. After all who knows when we will encounter some fool texting and driving, have a standoff with a deer on the highway, or fall off a ladder? But my primary interest is minimizing the everyday, run of the mill need for healthcare in the first place.
Read the book, It’s All about the Food, available in book and Kindle format on Amazon plus in several stores in Mount Ida, AR. Take control while you are still in the 80%.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. She is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.