For President’s Day: Living Healthier Should Be A Patriotic Duty

An innocent Facebook comment really struck a nerve. Someone said they wish their health insurance would cover a particular type of non-traditional medicine.

Special thanks to

Special thanks to

Maybe I have been living in the Washington, D.C. (going on 18 years) or covering insurance for too long, but this just struck a nerve.

People want insurers to pay more then complain that premiums, co-pays and deductibles are too expensive. Whatever happened to “there is no such thing as a free lunch?”

I reminded the Facebook commenter that healthcare has become so expensive that many employers have to cut jobs, wages and/or other benefits to even offer it.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare, which lacks a provision to even try to save money on healthcare costs, further opens the perceived “deep pockets” of the federal government at a time when our national debt is weakening our international financial strength.

Whatever happened to Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?”

I cannot help but think about my grandparents and others who lived through two world wars and the depression. They did not expect so much out of life or from their government. Living through that not only gave them a deep appreciation for the prosperity that followed, but they did not expect it to last. As a result, they sacrificed and saved money to be prepared for an uncertain future.

Whatever happened to Kennedy’s
“ask not what your country can do for you
but what you can do for your country?”

Retirement for them was not years of travel and playing golf. Their joy came from being with their grandchildren or volunteering. I can’t tell you how many of my younger friends express sadness that their children hardly see their busy and affluent grandparents.

My grandparents never got fat as they aged because they were always busy gardening, cleaning and repairing their homes. Dining out, even dessert, was limited for special occasions only. Government was for building roads, schools and ensuring the common defense. Its safety nets were only intended for the very poorest.

And I promise you; they would have never expected what we do from our employers, the government or even others. It just was not part of their social ethos, which believed in the strength of the individual, the necessity of community and the understanding that ultimate accountability would be to their maker.

I have been writing about all kinds of insurance for nearly 25 years and I have seen a lot. Managed care, which saved money in the short-term, only made consumers less aware of the true cost of coverage. When I wrote an article on consumer-driven health plans (which was later carried on the Wall Street Journal’s website), I asked the experts why we should not return to the old 80/20 indemnity plans. This way, I said, people would better appreciate the cost of care. Nobody had an answer.

Ensuring the physical and economic health of the United States and its citizens means that individuals will need to decide they will live healthier lives. Just reducing generally avoidable diseases will make a huge difference. Type II diabetes for example, has recently toppled heart disease as the most expensive diagnosis and it is growing at epidemic levels. It affects not only health care costs, but also disability and workers’ compensation.

One way we can do something for our country is to choose to live healthier. Personally, I have to make changes. But I am trying. Will you?

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