Let’s talk about this health insurance debate so we can get real about health care in our country. People confuse health care and health insurance. First, I have a request. Everybody put on your offended hat because I’m going to offend everyone. Don’t worry I won’t single anyone out. I’m going to offend republicans, democrats, fat people, skinny people, your grandma and everybody else too.
First, we need to get real about what insurance is. It’s not meant to take care of everything and everyone equally. To put it simply and without as much emotion, let’s look at the example of car insurance and two drivers, Bob and Rick.
Car Insurance Vs. Health Insurance
Bob is a really bad driver. He speeds, and he texts while driving. This means he gets in a lot of car accidents. He is also a bad car owner. He doesn’t take care of his brakes or his tires which is bad for someone who drives so recklessly. With all the dents in his car you see him coming down the street and you know to get out of the way. Bob has car insurance to pay for all of his stupidity. You should see his rates!
Rick is a good driver. He doesn’t have any accidents and drives carefully. He has car insurance but doesn’t plan to use it because he is a responsible driver. Always planning he has the insurance just in case something happens. Rick gets rewarded for his clean driving record and has lower rates than Bob. They give people better insurance based on how good of a driver you are. Would it be fair if Bob and Rick had the same rates?
No, it wouldn’t and it’s the same for health insurance. If everyone has the same health coverage, there will be even less incentive to take care of your health. That means all of us who are taking care of our health will pay for those who aren’t. That seems pretty crappy. Right? After all, it’s your responsibility to be in charge of your health. But we keep putting it in the hands of other people. The current state of medicine is surgery and prescribed medication. Now we know for a small percentage of people and illnesses there is no other route than surgery and medication. It’s very necessary in some instances! That doesn’t mean it is right for all instances! We can see that, right? Are the majority of us getting healthier? No, we are getting sicker.
Health Care and Lifestyle
I was at the grocery store to get some organic guac and some kombucha. I cruised through the organic aisle grabbing my healthy options. When I was checking out there was a guy in front of me who was so overweight he needed suspenders to hold up his pants. He was like 350 pounds and I watched him buy a bunch of junk food like Doritos and a ton of soda. His cart was very different from mine.
I am for liberty, so I don’t want to tell him how to live. They are his choices, but his choices can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. He gets to make those choices but if we are all on the same health plan then I would be paying for this guy’s stupid choices. My hormones, allergies and metabolic system are tested regularly. I make sure to get plenty of Vitamin D. My meals consist of whole, organic foods. You won’t see toxic, GMO-laden, crazy food-dye-filled Doritos and soda in my cart. Why do I have to pay for someone else’s bad habits? Health insurance isn’t to take care of you. It’s in case something happens. Health insurance is not health care.
Risks Increase Costs
To me, this is basic common sense. That 350-pound fat guy (I know I offended some of you who are this guy or know someone like him) making poor health choices has a right to health care? No, health care is not a right. Pursuit of health and life is your right. It’s lifestyle choices that make people sick the majority of the time. We know this. We know the majority of chronic illness is preventable. 90% if not more. Health insurance should be there for the times it’s not, but we are going too far in our coverage for everything.
So, Dorito-and-soda guy is on the same playing field as those of us taking care of our health? Even though he makes all the wrong choices? My shopping cart was a 100x better than that guy’s shopping cart. I know many of you will say, “Oh, doc we are offended.” It’s your own fault for getting emotional about it. We are not equal. His insurance should not be the same as mine. I guarantee he has high blood pressure and he probably has diabetes.
Your health insurance should be determined by your risk. Having the government decide is ridiculous. They can’t make people be healthy. Anything the government does- sucks. So many of you are going to point to other countries right now. I know I’ve talked with enough of you.
Health Sucks in Other Countries Too
I hear it now, “Other countries have it so together when it comes to health coverage.” Do they? Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are going up no matter what country you live in. Health insurance and health care are not the same thing. Health care sucks across the United States and it sucks in other countries too. I have people reaching out to me from Denmark, England, Spain, South Africa. They are looking for help. It’s not just us.
Why are they reaching out? They get stuff paid for over there but It’s not working for them. Denmark has the world’s highest rates of cancer. In the U.K., more people than ever have diabetes. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 33% of deaths in Spain. 30% of South Africans are obese. That’s why they are calling me. They are reaching out because health care sucks across the world whether the care is paid for or not.
It’s Time for a New Approach
So, my point is we aren’t talking about health care we are talking about health insurance and that isn’t a right. You have the right to pursue health. Not a right to it. The debate is about who is going to pay for health insurance when our crappy system of health care fails. Why should people making healthy choices pay for people who aren’t?
If 90% of our conditions are preventable why are we getting sicker across the world? You can go to Europe, South Africa or the United States and find the same thing. Without the change of thinking and a different approach to health, we aren’t going to be able to spend our way to a healthier country. We all need to take responsibility for our health and not put it in the government’s hands. We have never had a health care debate. That’s part of the problem. We have health insurance debate.
Health Insurance Can’t Make Us Healthier
Want to make health care really good? Get rid of all health insurance. People would start making better choices and start changing habits rather than going on medications for the rest of their lives.
Oh, but some people say the 350-pound man doesn’t know better. Really? You’re a special kind of something if you think its smart to be 350 pounds and buy a bag of Doritos instead of investing in a treadmill. They say, “It’s my environment and my genes.” The only genes you have to worry about are the ones you are wearing. You have more control over your health than you think. You just need to get tested to find out what is going on and have a good coach to help you.
It’s Time to Really Talk About Health Care
I’ve offended some people with my rough language. Offense is an agent for change. Did I make you offended? Did I make you think? We have never had a health care debate in this country we are having a health insurance debate. Before we get caught up in the emotion of the health insurance debate, our country needs to have an honest talk about health care.
Our current approach, that puts the responsibility for our health in the hands of people that just want to do surgery and prescribe medications, is not working. We need to put it in the hands of individuals. I’ll offend lots of people if it means getting more of them healthy.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Check out The Dr. Patrick Flynn Show where they talk about Health Care Vs. Health Insurance.