Our health insurance

Individual opinions are all over the place regarding our health insurance. Should it be offered by private companies or provided by our government through taxes? Or some combination of both? Should insurance companies be able to charge more for someone with pre-existing expensive health problems? Should they be able to raise rates when someone is diagnosed with a chronic (guaranteed to be long term and expensive) condition? How about offering discounts for individuals who are healthy? Should all children have guaranteed health care? Should insurance cover preventive measures? Should we require (mandate) every adult to pay for health insurance or pay a fine? Should our medicines be price controlled by our government through negotiation and regulation or by competition in the marketplace? If it’s by competition, who controls which medicines are proven to be safe?

How about using automobile insurance as a guide? I don’t want to defend the nuances of this analogy, but it also deals with expensive, unexpected and often unpreventable problems. We can’t realistically budget for these kinds of occurrences either. Auto insurance charges more if we have a poor driving record, gives discounts if our record is healthy, requires a fine if we’re uninsured, doesn’t pay for oil changes or maintenance or required annual inspection checkups—and is affordable.

All of those questions, and many others, must be addressed before forming an opinion. A healthy citizenship benefits us all and an unhealthy one costs us all. It seems to me that the first word in this column is clearly the key and the most efficient path to address those questions. Individual responsibility benefits the individual and then helps keep costs down for everyone. Reduced demand for health services reduces the cost of supplying health services. And it does have the built-in incentive of benefiting the individual first.

We all know how expensive health care and prescription medicines are and therefore how expensive health insurance must be. And we have by far the best preventive medicine available at a very low cost—one inexpensive medicine that reduces discomfort/pain, heart disease, blood pressure, onset of diabetes, osteoporosis, many cancers and body fat while improving sleep, posture and energy—all with none of the negative side effects that come with prescription drugs and take up 25 of the 30-second TV ads.

That’s right: a healthier lifestyle. Don’t eat processed food. Reduce salt, sugar and alcohol consumption. Walk briskly 30 minutes every day. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be more intense or complicated than that to enjoy all the rewards listed above plus maybe the most important one: feel better every day.

Oh yes, and you’ll be solving the whole health care/health insurance dilemma. By being individually responsible so the rest of us don’t have to pay for you.