I recently witnessed an example of how inflated pride and taking oneself too seriously can be damaging. So, because I never want that to happen to me, as I offer the very best solution to our entire National Health Care Policy Problem, I’ll do it “humbly.”
Next November we vote. This November I’m on a soapbox. National Health Care: a nice, warm, comforting, secure, cradle-to-grave, chicken-in-every-pot health care plan for everyone. Like most wishful thinking, sounds great!
First, let’s identify the problem. Is it the 47 million people who don’t have insurance? Or do we want better coverage from our insurance plans? Or do we want less expensive insurance? Or do we want better health care? Or less expensive health care? So, do we want everyone cared for or everyone just insured? And if insurance and care cost a lot now with lots of unhealthy folks “unfairly” excluded, what’s going to happen to the cost if insurance companies are mandated to include those potentially very expensive people? And another important question about any collective program: whom do we want to help?
- All the children. We surely want all of them to have every opportunity to receive medical care and become healthy contributing citizens.
- All senior citizens whose families can’t provide for them.
- And definitely, our military veterans who have given so much.
All pulling together to help those in need is what America should be about.
But there’s a big difference between that and asking us all to pay for those whose problems are largely self-induced. Do we really want to pay our taxes to cover lung cancer treatments for a smoker or to cover years of heart disease and diabetes treatments for an overweight person still ordering “biggie fries?”
So much of our health care “crisis” is self-induced that it’s hard to justify a collective solution. If so many people eat poorly, don’t exercise, gain way too many pounds of fat, smoke, drink excessive alcohol—they are going to have health problems. And these aren’t problems of no affordable insurance, or of inadequate insurance coverage, or of cost of insurance, or of the profitability of insurance companies. They are health problems directly caused or intensified by obesity and inactivity. They are problems to be addressed individually, not by some tax-funded government program that will cost us all a lot, will not achieve its well-meaning objectives, and will ensure them only of continued poor health. It’s not the job of government to protect us from ourselves like a big huggy mommy.
So, if you’re still reading (listening to me on my soapbox) and are willing to see where I’m going, it’s right here: We are the fattest and least conditioned nation in the world.
Go in a mall or any store in the United States and look around. A great percentage of the people you see are large. Go into any doctor’s waiting room or any emergency room and that percentage goes up even higher. Way up. People who have unhealthy lifestyles are…unhealthy. But go visit a nursing home or assisted-living facility and you won’t see much obesity there. Why not? They all lost 50 to 100 pounds? Nope. The inactive obese just don’t make it that long. They’re dead. Am I being too blunt? NO, NO, NO. I’m trying to be.
Almost 80 percent of inactive obese adults have diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol or osteoarthritis. I know, genetics plays a part in these expensive chronic conditions. But just a part. Some combination of genetics and lifestyle behavior plays a part in everything. Genetics doesn’t sneak up on us. We can see what our individual genetic challenges are going to be. And, we can do something about it!
Sit-ups don’t help. We can’t spot reduce. We have to burn more calories than we take in. The best way to do that is start walking. You can add an exercise program later that will benefit you in many, many ways but for now, walk. Every day. Start gradually but your goal is to walk at least five hours every week.
The good news: our much-maligned current health-care system has many of us living far longer than ever. The average lifespan in 1900 was 47 years; in 2000 it was 78. The number of us who reach 100 is the fastest-growing segment of our population. Opportunity is right here not only to live many more years but to fill those years with life. So, for the very best National Health Care Policy, eat better and exercise more. Accept responsibility for your life, take charge of it, and do something about it. To improve is the only goal. Improve a lot or improve a little, but improve.
Every day in my work, I see people doing exactly that. You can too.