Some Thoughts On U.S. Health Care Reform
First, let’s get one thing clear: the US Health Care Reform debate is not about health care, it’s about economics and, more specifically, it’s about Health Insurance Reform. If it were truly about health care then we would all be discussing how to make Americans more healthy by implementing broad dietary and lifestyle changes. We’d also be talking about stopping Government subsidies for factory farm meat, animal feed and GMO production and, instead, implementing subsidies for organic crops for humans. If it were truly about health care then, as a macrobiotic proponent, I would be fully engaged in the discussions. But because this is an economic issue then I am less inclined to be involved and participate in debates on how to get insurance companies to cover everyone and how to stop them from fleecing the public. They are many other people who know about this subject better than me.
From a larger perspective, what is interesting to me is the dynamics of what happens when a profit motivated US Health Care System spirals out of control and fails to serve the public. From a dialectical view there is a positive aspect to this failure: it contributes to the increase of out-of-pocket health care alternatives including macrobiotics. As conventional medicine and insurance companies fail to serve the people then the people turn to alternative medicine; taking their health into their own hands and at their own expense. The limitations and problems of a health care system based on corporate greed, in its extreme, creates people who have no other choice but to take responsibility for their own health. Taking responsibility for one’s own health is a good thing and, in my humble opinion, is the only thing that will ultimately save the US from it’s health problems including rampant obesity, heart disease, cancer and so on.
Meanwhile, countries that do have socialized medicine can potentially create citizens who become complacent and take little responsibility for their own health. Having easier access to pills and other quick symptomatic treatments takes away a strong incentive for taking responsibility for one’s own health. For example, an easy access to heart by-pass surgeries can take away the incentive to self-reflect and change one’s diet, which is the real cause. People don’t care and would rather indulge themselves fully in high cholesterol fatty foods and have a quick surgical fix than take responsibility and limit themselves. In addition, socialized medicine can also lead to a stagnant bureaucratic system that becomes difficult to change and even corrupt.
I am not against reform. On the contrary, I think the US Health Care system needs to urgently change. The things that Michael Moore exposed in his film “Sicko” are outrageous and should never happen regardless of what kind of system is implemented and I believe that President Obama is sincerely attempting to solve them in the best way that he can. While his approach may not be a final solution (nor is it “socialized medicine”), it is definitely a step forward from what exists now. Anyone who opposes it should go see “Sicko” and read this article by former Insurance Executive, Wendell Potter: http://www.prwatch.org/node/8422 . There are many voices out there who can better identify and express the issues and offer solutions that need changing in this matter than I can.
However, if I had my say then here are a few things that I think should be implemented.
1. There should be incentives to encourage people to take full responsibility for their own health including, first and foremost, changing their diets and lifestyle;
2. The emphasis should be on preventive, alternative macrobiotic approaches to health with conventional medicine and pharmaceutical drugs used only as an emergency and when absolutely necessary as a last resort instead of at first, which is the way it is.
3. Nutrition, culinary skills and macrobiotics should be taught in all Medical Schools and be required of anyone who wishes to serve in the health industry
4. For profit corporations should not be allowed to exert their influence on Washington. Private interests should stay out of Government and they should be regulated in order to protect the people and the planet. This not only includes health companies but also oil companies, military contractors, biotech firms, private financial institutions and so many other corporations that have burdened, not only the US Government, but the entire world. I believe their influence is the main reason why the U.S. Government is so big, overburdened and in debt.
By the way, the person with whom I identified with the most in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” was the uninsured man at the very beginning of the film who was his own doctor. He was inspiring to me as he took the matter of his health into his own hands, literally, by self-stitching his own wound. This does not mean that I don’t value health coverage or the medical system. Such things are absolutely necessary in today’s world but I believe that they should be used prudently and only when absolutely necessary.
As concluded in an earlier post about our economic values, I believe that the solution lies in the complete transparency for all “for profit health companies”, including insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations and others. We should all know what goes on in these companies that supposedly serve the greater good. Kudos to Rep. Dennis Kucinich for making this happen by asking Insurance Company CEOs to testify before Congress (see video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoluHC08B7M).
Indeed, those companies should themselves volunteer transparency or we should otherwise not use their services. It could be a “free-market” system with coverage for everyone but let it also be completely transparent. I personally would never trust my health with someone who hides something from me.
Lastly, in my humble opinion, health care should be made available to all, without bias and it should be that way in every country in the world. I would be proud of the US if it took the initiative in this. The only way we can have true “universal” health care is if it is uniformly available everywhere in the world. And, truth be told, except for emergency care, real health is available to all at no cost and begins with an awareness and change in diet and lifestyle to one that is in harmony with and nurtures the natural environment.
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