I find the health care debate in this country frustrating. It always seems we are debating the wrong points and once again getting caught up in partisan politics. After the historic Supreme Court ruling yesterday where Obama's Affordable Care Act was found to be constitutional, I am again left frustrated with the national conversation. Remember the ruling was to decide if the provisions were constitutional, not to decide whether they were good public policy. There are several provisions voted on that I can agree with whole heartily. I think it is great to allow children to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26. I also find the provision about denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions to be good. People should have the option of insurance if they choose to. It is the decision that a tax can be levied for those who opt out of coverage that is much more concerning to me. For me, this is not an issue of politics, but one of liberty. Why must I opt into this system if I do not want to? Is this not a gross over extension of the government into something very personal, my health?
I was reading about the decision on CNN and I came across this stunning statement made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "It is not your free choice" to stay out of the market for life. I think you can make a case that this law helps to negate the costs that the government, and ultimately the tax payers incur if people use the system and cannot pay the bills. Although the Act does make exemptions for very low income earners. This is not what she is saying; she is referring to the fact that many people who can afford health insurance and choose not to have it, are making it more expensive for the rest of the population. That they should not have the opportunity to opt out of health care just because they are healthy. Having healthy people in the system will subsidize the people that need the care. If there were no other choices out there then I could see this as a valid argument, but many other medical models exist and we should be able to utilize them if we choose. I have spoken to people who don't currently have medical insurance because they choose to use modalities that are outside of conventional medicine and therefore not covered by insurance.
Though it is my personal beliefs that we should always take care of the least among us, I don't think it is the role of the government to force us into a broken system. Does this really help us to reform health care? As reported by MSNBC, the United States has the highest health care spending at $7960 per capital, which is $2600 more than the second highest country, Norway. Why is that? It is certainly not because healthy people are opting out of the healthcare 'market'. Without looking at the fundamental inequities and inefficiencies in our health care, you can't just allow the degradation of personal freedoms because it happens to be in line with your beliefs. Ask yourself, if this was your political opposition making this decision, would you be up in arms?
The real reason for our health care cost is that we are primarily a disease care system. Its main functions are emergency care, diagnostics, surgery and symptom management. This are all after the fact interventions. The only saving of this medical system is to have a much stronger focus on prevention. It is our reliance on costly medications, diagnostics procedures and elective surgeries that are driving up costs. Many of these could be prevented. Now the new act is supposed to have more preventive measures in it, but most of them are screenings. Screenings are not prevention. Having the blessing of exposure to other models such as Naturopathic, Ayurvedic, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I know there are other whole medical models out there for us to draw wisdom from. Most complementary and alternative medical systems rely heavily on preventive measures. These healing philosophies need to be looked at and integrated into our current system. The only saving grace that I could see in this Act is if they allow people to seek whatever type of practitioner they wish, without trying to funnel people through our conventional system. I could list several reasons why this is unlikely to happen, but that is a topic for another blog.
Do we really think that just having more people in the system will make it more affordable? Unless this tactic comes in concert with better basic nutrition, more physical activity and stress reduction implements, our national health crisis is going to continue to get worse. Though maybe this is where we will eventually be taken with this legislation, the government mandating all of our lifestyle choices. Since there is no doubt that our health is inextricably linked to the cost of our health care. Our health care costs will continue to rise regardless of having more people in the pool. However it is not the governments job to get people to lead healthier lives, it is a personal responsibility. We all need to become more accountable to our actions and make the choice to lead more fulfilling and healthy lives. So in that line of thinking, we should have the opportunity to take advantage of therapies that promote true health and healing, at the very least it should be our choice.
Angela Levesque is an exercise physiologist, mind/body educator and energy healer. She hosts a weekly online radio show called On Health & Healing on a2zen.fm. Visit www.hestiahealth.com for more information.