DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Health Care Reform and Well Being

Were it not for the constraints of time, this could be a longer post. The topic of health care reform in the United States prompts many passionate reactions from citizens. Abroad, people must wonder how we have tolerated the system we have for this long anyway? In the midst of economic chaos in the United States, the issue has been temporarily put on the back burner. Yet, President Obama knows very well that the costs of inaction, in human terms and in dollars saved, are greater than the cost of reform—and growing every day.

The irony is that attempts at national reform in the United States have been tried several times during the past century. For example, most people don't appreciate that President Harry Truman tried valiantly to reform the system, without success. Then there are the better known efforts of President Kennedy (leading to the compromise that became Medicare and Medicaid), and the failed Clinton effort. In each case, the complexity of the issue, special interest groups protecting their "rice bowls", and an effective disinformation campaign by the health insurance companies linking a national approach to "socialism" or socialized medicine, were able to derail the efforts. Meanwhile, like a patient in critical condition, the system is in need of urgent life support and getting worse.

So, what does this have to do with "Doing Life Well"? It's simple, really. Important requirements for doing life well include being informed about issues, making wise choices, and advocating for conditions in our communities that support our ability to participate in activities that contribute to our health. Former HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle has advocated for a compromise solution that would create a Federal Health Board and unify both private and public systems, requiring everyone to have insurance. Personally, I think the best system is a single payer system that enables choice and limits profits that are based on human illness or suffering. Why profit from services that people have no choice but to accept? Isn't that a grand perversion of monopoly? But, the important thing is to make progress in reforming the system. Whatever we do, however, we must have as a principle of reform that lifestyle-related prevention and health promotion initiatives and funding are part of the solution. The value of such efforts is unmistakable, and can save millions (not to mention the advantages of helping people feel better about themselves and making them happier and more productive). Most people would rather live their lives well and be active and engaged than to have health care money spent on keeping them "alive" at the end of life, hooked to tubes and merely surviving rather than flourishing.

Albert Einstein, a wise and learned man, once observed that not everything that can be measured counts, and not everything that counts can be measured. The dialogue about health care must include a discussion of issues not easily measured, like value. There is a wide difference between the meanings of cost and value. We must ask the question: How is the system to support efforts that address people's quality of life?

About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.