Does Universal Health Care Make Us Complacent?

How many of you out there have seen the recent controversial video of US Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney in which he claims Obama supporters feel as though “the government has a responsibility to care for them and who believe they are entitled to heath care, to food…”.

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out here.

In the United States, universal health care doesn’t exist so if you want coverage you must purchase your own private plan via an insurance company.  Medicaid is available for people who are disabled or over the age of 65 – starting in 2014 anyone who earns less than $15,000 a year becomes eligible.

You may have heard of Obamacare or Health Care Reform?  In March 2010, a bill was passed with the goal of making health care more affordable…here are some highlights:

•Insurance reforms to protect consumers from insurance company worst-practices ( for example, denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, capping total coverage, etc).
•Creation of a health exchange to increase consumer choice and guarantee coverage
•Affordable health options, with subsidies for working families and a hardship waiver
•Tax credits to help small businesses afford coverage
•Making preventive care completely free – with no co-payments or deductibles
•Lowering the cost of health care for our seniors
•Improving the quality and extending the life of Medicare

Not too long after the Mitt Romney video was leaked, we had a great discussion in school about the correlation of universal health care and motivation to manage ones own health.

An observation made by a teacher who also a Naturopath is that in general Canadians tend to be more passive about their healthcare – they show up to appointments without preparing questions and fail to bring lab results (very broad stereotype which obviously doesn’t apply to everyone).  In the United States by contrast, since people are paying for their doctors visits they come well prepared because time is money and they want the most bang for their buck.

Are we likely to be more complacent because we know in the long run footing the bill becomes the tax payers money?

Maybe, but complacency doesn’t necessarily lead to poor(er) health.

It’s hard to know with so many variables in the picture, but it is interesting to note that according to the latest WHO stats, the percentage of Canadians with a healthy BMI is 46.7% as compared to the United States where it’s 35.7%.

What factors into a healthy BMI?  Prevention, drugs, or acute care?  I would argue that in Canada, prevention is unfortunately not emphasized nearly enough as the most cost effective primary intervention to good health.  Drugs work and allow people to continue partaking in poor diet and lifestyle choices without immediate consequences.

In the end, we know people don’t always do what is best for them and universal health care is like a parent that nags you to take care of chores but will bail you out when you’re in hot water.  I’ll take that but my hope is that health care will shift from reactive to preventative – from drugs to lifestyle and diet.

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One thought on “Does Universal Health Care Make Us Complacent?

  1. Pingback: Does Universal Health Care Make Us Complacent? « heathermargaretland

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