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Fixin' Healthcare

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - I Would Rather Be Healthy

David Gratzer, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, takes issue with the study that compares the American and Canadian health care systems. That study was a telephone survey of 3,500 Canadians and 5,200 Americans. The authors conclude Canadians have better access to health care at lower cost and they are more healthy than Americans.

Dr. Gratzer's op-ed piece entitled "Where Would You Rather Be Sick?" appeared in the June 16th issue of the Wall Street Journal. He points out that problems in public health should not be confused with flaws in the health care system. A sedentary lifestyle and obesity have little to do with access to health services. And, he presents data indicating the American health care system excels in taking care of people stricken with serious ilness.

I think Dr. Gratzer makes a very important point. The American health care system is designed for the care of sick people and the outcomes are the best that can be expected. That being said, it is a system for medical care and it shoud not be applied to everyone. The expense is inherent to the process of specialization, technology and research. Access should and must be based upon need rather than demand.

The basis of poor health status in America is not lack of medical care. Americans are less healthy because they are ignorant about health and they lack the discipline to manage their lives in a manner to achieve optimum health status. Emphasizing medical care diverts attention from the task at hand. Let us discontinue marketing medical care and create a public health care system to assure the best (optimum) health status possible for everyone.

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