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Supreme Court Ruling of Affordable Care Act

HealthcareThe Supreme Court has just upheld (sort of) President Obama’s Affordable Care Act individual mandate, requiring Americans to obtain health insurance or pay (a tax penalty). Many who debate the ruling feel that it is unconstitutional…that one shouldn’t be “required” to buy health insurance. It should be a choice, not a mandate. Personally, what I struggle with has nothing to do with the law itself, it has to do with why this law has had to come into existence. Pure and simple, it is due to two factors: 1) our nation’s lack of health as a whole, 2) the medical system’s inefficiencies and financial spending due to a highly litigious society. Personally, I’d like to focus on #1, as I believe that #2 is already under some (maybe not enough but some) consideration.

There is no denying that health care costs continue to rise, but a good portion of those costs can be directly attributed to the health of our nation. Statistics show that 3 out of 4 individuals are overweight or obese, and that $190 billion of health care costs (21%) can be directly attributed to obesity. If you ask me, that is a big chunk of change.

Instead of spending time and energy on laws that support these rising costs due to our nation’s lifestyle choices, why not focus on laws that inspire lifestyle change that will help reduce costs? By no means is this a simple solution, but it surely is a long-term solution that if implemented correctly, benefits all involved: healthier and happier Americans, less visits to doctors, lower rates of preventable disease, and yes, lower health care costs all around. Further, corporations win because their employees will actually be more productive and happier.

Isn’t it time that our citizens take responsibility for their health and for their influence on health care costs?

What are your thoughts on this difficult issue?

Source: Reuters

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Fitness, Nutrition Tagged with: ,
  • The government might be spending a lot of money on obesity & complications that does not make it zero burden for the people who are overweight. Like nobody choses to be sick, nobody chooses to be overweight. This law is not about cushioning fat people so they have no incentive to do something about but instead the main focus is about trying to change the paradigm that when you are seriously sick, you loose the (employer based health) coverage that you have been working for all these years, decades,… It’s like a car insurance that doesn’t cover your accidents. Beyond that there are lots of incentives in the law that are focused on rewarding results instead of procedures so that should bring down costs as well. There is quite a bit of focus on preventitve care in the bill but not nearly enough, I’ll agree with you on that. It’s been well documented that the American healthcare system is by the far the most expensive but not nearly the best in just about any reasonable criteria you can think of. Rewarding results and expanding coverage so people can deal with chronic issues on an ongoing basis to prevent expensive emergency room visits are an essential part of that.

    • brettblumenthal

      Thanks Tim. I completely agree with you on emergency care and long-term illness and most of what you explain. If people have thyroid or hormonal imbalances or other health-related issues that cause them to have weight problems, that is one thing, but I think it would be wrong to assume that all overweight people don’t have a choice. They may not know how to be at a healthier weight, or how to choose foods that are healthier, but that too is a problem of education. We need to empower individuals to know how to live healthier.

  • I wonder sometimes if advances in medicine have really held us back. I couldn’t agree more that we need to focus on general health and good food and exercise choices. I’m not perfect by any means, but I look around sometimes and wonder how we got so bad. It’s astounding to see so many people who have given up on trying to be healthy.
    I work with a woman who is morbidly obese and a smoker with high blood pressure and diabetes. Despite her doctor’s warnings, she refuses to alter her eating habits or exercise to lose weight-she has medication for her high blood pressure, painkillers for her overloaded joints, insulin for her diabetes and a handicapped parking sticker to avoid walking, so she sees no reason to change her habits. I can’t help but wonder what her attitude would be if none of those expensive medicines were available, or if she didn’t have health insurance to make them affordable.
    I don’t know if the answer is to have some sort of educational programs, for more health insurance companies to offer incentives to be healthy, or something else I haven’t thought of but clearly we need to have that discussion as a country.

  • Florence

    hmmm, I am not a doctor but I work in a hospital handling budget and financial issues. One piece of the answer to your question I could bring would be that the pharmaceutical industry pays for medical research, thus putting medecine to the market, thus generating LOADS of money. Why would the health industry favor individuals taking their health in charge? The profits and lobbies at stake are huge, just like the agricultural industry who does not want to see any diminishing in the consumption of meat and dairy foods.
    Eat more, buy more medication. Individual consumers must become aware that they have to change themselves and not wait for a government or any other authority to tell them what and when.

    • brettblumenthal

      Could not agree more, Florence. We need to take care of ourselves and take responsibility for our own health. Not rely on the government to do it for us. That said, a lot of Americans are not well informed or educated about how to do that. That is a process too…