Friday, July 31, 2009

So, it's Okay to Ruin Your Own Health? VDH, no problem?

Pulse has seen it all now. This very strange battle over fitness, that is shaping up in America.

Definitely, it's a battle desperately needed, for too long. A battle over whether people will begin to take more personal responsibility, for their own lifestyles and their own health.

President Obama continues to fight for his health plan--- to lower costs, guarantee choice, and ensure that all Americans have access to high quality, affordable health care. The President promises $500 billion in cost savings, over the next 10 years, to cover the more than 40 million uninsured Americans.

Small businesses that provide health care insurance for employees would receive federal get tax credits. Health insurance companies could no longer deny applicants for pre-existing conditions. Choices of doctors would be left up to you.

One big reason why public health plans in France, for example, work, is because people they are healthier. Their lifestyles result in less obesity, more exercise, less heart disease and cancer. Less disease, less cost, more happiness and productivity. How can that be bad? Why shouldn't such behavior be rewarded?

In the proposed American health plan, larger discounts would be given to Americans who lose weight or lower their cholesterol. What a great idea! What could be more fair and wise? A reward for protecting your own health.

And guess who could find fault with rewarding citizens for protecting their own health? The most unlikely of opponents--- the AARP and the American Heart Association, to begin with. Over 60 groups in all are against the provision.

How can this be, you ask? AARP? AHA? No way.

Aren't these the very groups always urging people to take better care of their health? Stop smoking? Stop gluttony? Stop alcohol abuse? How can this be wrong?

An AARP spokesman said, "If you give one person a discount, someone else is going to end up paying more. So the people who aren't able to change their behavior or participate in the program will end up paying more. Our fear is that premiums will become unaffordable for people who can't change their behavior."

Right now, healthy lifestyles are rewarded by up to 20 percent discounts on premiums, co-payments or deductibles. Those who take part in some programs like anti-smoking and weight-loss, and other wellness programs, receive the discount. Other programs check weight loss or gain, blood pressure levels, or cholesterol levels.

President Obama's plan would raise the discount for healthy lifestyle participants, from 30 percent all the way to 50 percent, depending on the success of the participant in reducing risk factors for healthy living.

This seems absolutely necessary to lower the enormous cost of the plan. And to push people into healthier life choices. Not only is it wise, but its only fair. And, workers who can't hit specific targets could still apply for a medical exemption.

Even some key Republicans agree, like Sen Judd Gregg, R-N.H. "There is significant savings and significant positives to encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles and reward people monetarily for doing it. That's just common sense and we should do it. If you create a healthier work force by incentivizing healthy lifestyles you reduce the overall cost of health care for everyone."

It's time for a healthier way of life, and maybe it will take President Obama's new health plan--- to make us all face the bad things we do to ourselves!

VDH. "Volunteer Disease Habits." Nicotine addiction, food gluttony, alcohol abuse, and all the horrors of self-medication. Self-destructive behavior.

Maybe the AARP and other groups should be throwing their considerable public weight behind the battle against VDH, instead of the health plan!

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