(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.