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Fixin' Healthcare

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Most chronic diseases are linked to the lifestyle choices of diet, physical activity, smoking, sleep and managing stress. As poor lifestyle choices become more prevelant and the incidence of chronic diseases increases, the challenge is to alter these choices. One method gaining support is providing financial incentives, such as lower premiums or co-payments, for employees who choose to cease smoking, increase physical activity and control weight.

A recent Wall Street Journal/Harris Poll indicates consumer support for financial incentives is increasing. Fifty-three percent said it is fair to ask people with unhealthy lifestyles to pay higher insurance premiums than people with healthy lifestyles, while 32 percent said it would be unfair. In 2003, 37 percent said it would be fair and 45 percent said it would be unfair.

Changes in public opinion pave the way for basic shifts in culture and public policy. This change will have an impact as more corporations alter their approach to health insurance. Eventually, this will change Medicare and Medicaid. Then, there will be a national transformation in health care with the emphasis upon health rather than sickness. The impact upon America will be a paradigm shift in the quality of life and the economy.

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