Technology will not save health care, personal responsibility will.

 

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During  President Obama’s speech he stated

“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”

I completely, totally disagree.  President Obama, health care doesn’t need high technology, health care needs personal responsibility.  America’s health care costs are excessive for several reasons, and most have nothing to do with technology.  America spends 15% of it’s gross domestic product on health care, or from a different perspective,  $5711 per capita.  Our closest big spender?  The wealthy country of Luxembourg,which spends $4611 per capita.  Japan spends $2249, and Italy, where they eat all that pasta, spends $2314 per capita.  Why are we spending so dang much?

Here are the reasons, and they have nothing to do with technology:

  1. We Americans are pigs.  30% of our population is obese.  Note I said obese, not over weight.  We eat in our cars, chow on super sized fat filled “fast food”, and consider opening the refrigerator a sport.
  2. Television watching has morphed into an art form.  The average American watches FOUR hours of T.V. daily! Who has time to watch that much?!  In addition the wii is now considered a way to exercise.  C’mon, gimme a break!  The only way a wii can help you get exercise is when you walk the cardboard box it came in out to the garbage.  (Yes, I have played!)
  3. The Marlboro Man still rides.  Nearly 20% of Americans still smoke.  (Sadly, including our president.)  Those most likely to smoke were those below the poverty level, with the least amount of education, (and the least access to health care).

Sloth is causing Americans to be unhealthy.  High technology will make us more efficient in the way we diagnose and treat illnesses, but it will not prevent them.  Obesity, tobacco and inactivity are the root cause to heart disease, diabetes mellitus, many cancers, and  COPD.  The fanciest technology in the world will not change this.  What will?  America will spend less when we have sweeping cultural changes such that Americans get off the couch, toss away the remote, and spend their money on healthy foods, rather than cigarettes and french fries.

President Obama, I’m glad you’re here, but please, focus on the root of the problem.  Pruning the tree will not change the roots!

Next post: HOW we can create a healthier America with out expensive high technology.

2 Responses

  1. I am back in school pursuing my ARNP and in the process of writing a paper on the importance of encouraging and enforcing personal responsibility for healthcare. I work with many obese, morbidly obese, and super-morbidly obese patients daily in my work and it is difficult to maintain my composure sometimes when patients blatantly defy the medical treatment advice, offerings of classes and training on behavior changes, and are non-compliant with their medications for whatever reasons. It disgusts me the way some people just expect to be able to eat and do whatever they want and get the best and most costly medical treatment to “cure” them when they have personally caused their medical problems due to their lifestyle choices. I am not saying we shouldn’t treat patients, but I do believe that patients who are unwilling to put forth the effort to prevent or reverse negative health consequences due to poor life choices should pay a higher premium for their care. I say keep raising the taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and fast foods. Maybe then people will think twice about overindulgences of all kinds when they pay more to choose these habits on the front end and when they pay more for health services related to obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and conditions related to tobacco dependance and alcoholism. I am not trying to be discriminatory, but it is just as discriminatory for those of us who choose to be healthy to pay for those who don’t.

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