Regardless of where Congress goes with health care, isn’t it time we paid attention to our own health care footprints? A study appearing in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association says the risk of incurring such chronic ailments as diabetes, stroke, cancer, and heart disease can be reduced by 80 percent merely by following four simple rules: Do some physical activity; don’t smoke; eat healthy foods; and don’t get obese. Fewer than 10 percent of the participants did all four things. If more people followed these simple preventives, it would save our precious medical resources for those who are truly in need.
Most people are unlikely to make even simple lifestyle changes without incentives, so here is a suggestion. My auto insurance company sends us a nice rebate check each Christmas for having good driving records during the previous year. What if insurance companies did the same for people who either maintain good health or who are taking steps to improve their health? If we do end up with government health care, this could take the form of a tax deduction. We have a responsibility to become a healthier nation, and to let our medical system focus on unpreventable conditions.