Utah Politicians on Health Care

(I posted this last year on OneUtah.org, on which I was active at the time. It was a follow-up to my post “The Value of the Working Poor,” which had I cross-posted there. At the time I chose not to cross-post this one here, but have now reconsidered.)

I received several comments to my previous post on the working poor. Emily Hollingshead shared a recent experience she had at a meeting which was attended by many Utah politicians. One line in particular caught my attention. I hope Emily does not mind if I quote her.

I was shocked to hear some of our legislators talk about the “lazy people” who use medicare, and who “abuse the system” and who “make lifestyle choices” that put them in the hospital in the first place. The most shocking comment came from a gentleman running for the county commission who said the people who use medicare or medicade “use it all the time” because it is available to them and they have unending access to it. (Paraphrasing).

Interesting. I am not familiar with the situations about which this potential county commissioner is speaking. But it seems an odd perspective on health care.

Please correct me if I’m wrong; but isn’t a quality health care system one in which the patrons are able to make frequent and regular use of the system? Where frequent check-ups are the norm, so that potential health issues can be detected and prevented before they become catastrophes or expensive emergencies? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” I’d been led to believe. Is that only true for those wealthy enough to afford health care?

Are we supposed to turn away those whose lifestyle choices lead to health problems? How charitable.

I shudder to think what that would mean for the increasingly sedentary population, whose diet consists of increasing amounts of sugars, salt, and fats. The LDS community may not drink or smoke, but they are certainly vulnerable to a number of lifestyle choices which can put them in the hospital.

There may be more effective ways to accomodate their health-care needs, but the objections of these Utah politicians are completely off-base.

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4 Responses to “Utah Politicians on Health Care”

  1. jennifer Says:

    – – – you’d think that people would wake up and judge the success of a health care system by the actual health of actual citizens. Is there no accountability for the system as a whole?

  2. EVIL HMO Says:

    no…………and there never will be……….

  3. fstaheli Says:

    There can definitely be accountability if we get the federal government out of it (since when has the FedGov felt like it had to account to anyone?) and if we are allowed and encouraged to have Health Savings Accounts.

    I agree, Derek, that lifestyle choices are critical to better health and lower health costs. If you were responsible to pay for your own health care, would you exercise more and eat fewer sugary treats? I would. But where’s the incentive now? If I had an HSA, I would have money left over, with which I could help my neighbor in his or her health distress. And yes, that’s what’s missing–people serving and helping their neighbor in times of need. But we can’t do this when government is taking so much of our money and throwing it down the inefficiency rat hole–and telling us “Don’t worry about helping your neighbor, the Federal Government will take care of it!”.

  4. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Frank, I guess I have a less pessimistic view of humanity than that held by conservatives. I just don’t believe that money is the only thing which motivates us. I believe people have an incentive to live a healthy lifestyle because they want to be healthy, not because they will lose money.

    The conservative hypothesis about the free market sounds rational. But it doesn’t stand up to the evidence. Based on your logic, the European nations with their socialized medicine should have rampant health problems. After all, their citizens have no incentive to live healthy lives. Surprise! Europeans are significantly more healthy than U.S. citizens. Your theory does not stand up to real world evidence. No, the U.S. health-care system may not be completely free-market, but it is considerably less socialized than the European systems under which their citizens have better health despite spending substantially less per capita. Explain that.

    BTW, being without any health insurance whatsoever (I cannot afford it, nor am I in a position yet where my employer will provide), I am indeed responsible for my own health care. But that isn’t why I try to live a healthy lifestyle (bike a lot, eat lots of vegetables, avoid processed foods, minimize my meat, etc). I do so because I believe I need to take care of God’s gift. Unfortunately, no amount of healthy living (at which I’m not perfect anyway) can guarantee perfect health. So I have to seriously pray that neither my wife nor I experience any serious health problems.

    I’m glad you’re so eager to help your neighbor. Tell me, if I was to discover I had cancer, would you be able to give me the thousands upon thousands of dollars necessary to treat that cancer? Even if we had your precious HSA, I doubt you and I could afford the incredible costs of treating my debilitating health problems. And there are thousands of people out there suffering catastrophic health issues like cancer. So if we want to help our neighbors–all of them–maybe we should band together through an institution which represents all of us to coordinate that. Say, perhaps, the government.

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