I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted health care. And I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs. So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunities to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.
Please let me know your thoughts and whether they have changed since that time.
Our ‘obligations’ under health reform haven’t changed that much
Now that health reform has passed I was reflecting again on the question:
“Is healthcare a right or a privilege?”
In line with President John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural address from 1961, there is a third option: “Healthcare is an obligation.”
We as individuals are obligated to take care of our own health. To eat right, to exercise correctly, to get enough sleep, to find healthy options to relieve stress, to stop smoking, to drink alcohol in moderation, to not use illicit drugs, to develop healthy relationships, to maintain an optimal weight, to ensure optimal conditioning prior to engaging in sports, to wear a bike helmet when riding a bike, to wear a safety belt when in a car, to follow scientific-based prevention guidelines best suited to you as an individual, to make one’s health a priority, to develop and manage a healthcare-related budget, and so much more.
Living up to these obligations alone will significantly improve the health of individuals and communities and lower the cost of healthcare more than any top-down approach. All of us honoring these commitments would literally change the world.
Beyond there personal obligations, we must also continue to identify barriers to good health for others, to identify the root-cause of these barriers, to stand up in community to break these barriers down, and to support one another in doing so.
Some of these barriers include:
* Access-related barriers such as cultural, language, education, health literacy, limited number of high-quality physicians in rural areas and more.
* Environmental barriers such as pollution, harmful food chemicals and food production techniques, and more.
* Political barriers such as the politics of stakeholders in the healthcare system (insurers, politicians, providers) who aren’t focused on the greater good of the community.
* Health equity barriers that are contributing to health disparities throughout the health and healthcare system.
* Socioeconomic barriers such as balancing the inability for some to afford high-quality, value-based health care with the human need to give, to earn, to be needed, and to be honored.
* Reimbursement barriers such as primary care physicians having to generate 25 to 30 or more relative value units per day and physician practices having to make up financial shortfalls by overtreating and ordering ever more ancillary services and driving up the cost of care (especially as reimbursement rates are reduced).
* And other additional barriers that exist in specific markets that only together and collaboratively can we can mitigate.
We have voices, we have our energy and we have our obligation to stand up, to get involved, and to make a difference.
The passage of health reform doesn’t make our obligations go away.
What can we, as providers and as individuals, do for our country to significantly improve the health of individuals and communities? Much! Let’s begin by living up to our obligations to take care of ourselves, our families, and our communities.