By relying on the healthiest people in the nation to fund affordable health care for those unwilling to take care of their bodies, Obamacare is nothing more than punishment for the healthy. This is not to say the unhealthy do not deserve affordable health care, it is just that it should not come on the backs of those who take care of themselves. Anyone can live a healthy life.
There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act that provides anyone an incentive to live a healthy life. The most basic incentive should be rewarding the healthy with lower premiums. Instead, it requires the healthy, who generally are also the people who are well educated and employed or in their twenties and less likely to have major health issues based on their life style, to pay for something that is all too often abused by the unhealthy.
It only takes a simple visit to any ER in America to find it filled with people who have eschewed a healthy way of life. You will see them with their children who might be sick with nothing more than a cold or flu bug relying on the most expensive form of health care to treat what they should be able to do by just going on line. There needs to be an entry requirement before being allowed to walk into an ER and seek health care. Emergency medicine is for life and death situations and not for someone in need of cough syrup.
Now, I am sure there are people who will read this and claim I hate poor people. Let me make it clear, I hate anyone who abuses my tax dollar. The poor are guilty of this from time to time just as congress and the president are. I resent being expected to pay for people who have never expressed an interest in taking care of their health. The poor are not the only ones guilty of this. There are plenty of middle and upper class people who choose not to live a healthy lifestyle too. I hate paying for their health care just as much.
People born with type 1 diabetes have done nothing to deserve the cost and challenges of their affliction. Children suffering from cancer, the elderly dealing with dementia, the innocent victim who suffers injuries at the hand of someone else; these are all examples of people who deserve affordable health care. They are not at fault for the hand they have been dealt.
However, those who have type 2 diabetes, also known as adult on set diabetes, are almost always at fault for their condition. And now that this once adult only disease is cropping up in teens, it is usually the fault of the parent raising the child. Why the healthy should be expected to pay for this when it was entirely preventable in the first place is nothing short of punitive. The same goes for smokers, drinkers, or the just plain lazy who can’t get up off the couch unless food is involved.
The best way to encourage Americans to live a healthier lifestyle is to stop rewarding the unhealthy with cheap healthcare. If you want to smoke, drink, over eat, engage in unsafe sex, or any of a number of other unhealthy life style choices, this is your right. Go for it. However, it is not your right to have affordable health care that is paid for on the backs of the healthy. If your lifestyle makes you seriously ill and you are unable to afford health care, why should the healthy pay for it? It is social Darwinism at work and if your demise serves as a wake up call for others, then your unhealthy life may not have been fully wasted.
At the same time, if the government really wants a healthier nation, they would provide real tax incentives for those of us who take care of ourselves. We are not immune to major illness but studies show those who do not drink in excess, smoke, over eat, and get plenty of exercise are far less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, and just about all other major illnesses. We may need the occasional orthopedic procedure but only so we can get back to our active way of living.
A life long exerciser of seventy has the same bone structure and lung capacity of someone half their age who does not exercise at all. We should reward the exerciser for their healthy lifestyle with a lower premium.
I am a firm believer in allowing Americans more choices but also believe we will live healthier lives and accomplish more when there is an incentive to do so. By providing people who make the choice of living an unhealthy life style with affordable healthcare, the government kills their incentive to incorporate healthier living into their lives. It tells them to just keep living a life of excess without worry of the financial cost it will have. It also sends the message to the healthy their government takes you for granted and can continue to rely on you to pay for the way the unhealthy live.
It’s time to reward the healthy for the choices they make and the example they set for others. Health care costs can easily come down simply by making the unhealthy pay financially for their lifestyle while rewarding the healthy for theirs. If we do this, twenty-five years from now we will have a much healthier population that pays lower health care premiums. Does anyone think under Obamacare this will be the case?
James Moore is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching and currently runs his own personal training business, In Home Jim, in Hemet, CA. Jim’s writings are often the end result of his thoughts mulled over while riding his bike for hours on end.