While I regret oversimplifying the healthcare debate, I will anyway.
The simplification is from a comic strip from many yrs ago: “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.” (Walt Kelly in “Pogo”, Earth Day, 1970)
I had an epiphany 2 weeks ago as a result of spending 7 sad hours with a sick friend at Exemplar’s emergency unit
The incidence of obesity I witnessed was stunning. They say that 30 – 35% of our population can now be defined as obese. . By my anecdotal count the real statistic might be well over 50%, at least in the 7 hrs I observed at Exemplar.
Many believe that obesity is a behavioral or lifestyle choice. Healthcare economists have documented the incremental costs of treating obesity and its myriad “side effects”. These costs have been described as “staggering” and “epidemic”.
Other expensive lifestyle choices include myriad chemicals (nicotine, alcohol, pot, etc.)
So behavior and lifestyle decisions of some in our society result in more expensive problems. And these problems ultimately morph into insurance-covered entitlements for which we all must pay
(And isn’t this part of our greater cultural picture ? Beyond healthcare, isn’t the financial meltdown similarly rooted in reckless consumptive behavior ? )
Imagine if we had a healthcare system based on positive and negative incentives, where insurance costs were assessed relative to individuals’ behavior. I know:.that would be impossibly naïve. Better to blame illegals, or drug or insurance companies, than to hold anyone accountable for their “lifestyle”.
It all seems to come down to character. And in a democracy – where our culture reflects our collective character – our solutions are ultimately political. And so we demand – and feel entitled to – comfortable solutions from our politicians. But how can politicians make the tough leadership decisions if 50% of the electorate – their constituents ! ! ! – are the problem. Our obesity lobby is as imposing as the NRA.. It’s apparently easier to blame someone –anyone - else.
The enemy is indeed us. We are on the march.and we seem doomed to victory.