The "ayes" have it. Now that the health care vote has happened, we all know what our elected officials (and everyone else's) want to do or not do about health care. I've seen angry and condescending Internet and Facebook posts and comments directed at those with the opposing viewpoint to theirs. I have seen inappropriate behaviors such as finger pointing, arrogance, and accusations from both political parties, the media, and the public.
In reality ... neither side has a crystal ball on what impact the newly passed health care bill will have, so I am skeptical of the "all knowing" arguments in favor of and against. But regardless of political position, we should never forget or neglect the component of health care over which we as citizens have the most control. For most of us, our own actions have a huge influence on how healthy we will be, regardless of our insurance plans. A few pointed questions for your consideration ...
Are you ...
... exercising vigorously four or more times a week to promote heart health?
... doing strength training to maintain muscle mass, burn calories, and help to reverse such conditions as osteoporosis?
... eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily to prevent cancer and other serious diseases?
... avoiding alcohol altogether or drinking in moderation to avoid addiction, liver disease, and diabetes?
... using over-the-counter and prescription medicines according to the recommended dosage to avoid addiction, overdose or dangerous side effects?
... attending worship services and/or meditating independently to help reduce blood pressure and promote healing?
... giving up cigarettes, avoiding second-hand smoke, or never smoking in the first place to protect your heart?
... eating red meat, sweets and fats sparingly to reduce the likelihood of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease?
... turning off the tv once in a while and going on a hike in nature to reconnect with your inner self?
... finding alternatives to angry outbursts, road rage, fault finding, ongoing criticism of "the other side", and festering resentments which may harm mental and emotional health?
... if you are a mother, breast-feeding your infant to develop your child's healthy immune system?
... developing and fostering a support network of family and close friends to manage stress and promote mental health?
... if you are a parent, limiting video game and tv time in favor of outdoor exercise which lays the foundation for your child's heart health for life?
... eating a well balanced diet and exercising to maintain a normal weight and avoid the health risks associated with obesity?
... brushing and flossing teeth regularly to prevent tooth decay and heart disease?
... if you are sexually active, ensuring that you are protected from STD's?
... getting adequate sleep each day to allow the body to recover and heal itself?
... eating foods that are free of pesticides and added hormones so that these are not released into your digestive tract?
Note that I did not ask if anyone was refraining from eating chocolate. That is because chocolate in its purest form (ie without all the cookie, gooey, caramel filling) has some medicinal properties! Eat it daily, in moderation.
Okay so here comes the big bonus: If you can avoid or reverse disease (and yes ... I know it is sometimes beyond your control), you will subsequently avoid trips to the doctor, boring magazines in doctor's waiting rooms, medical tests, probes, pokes, medical procedures, insurance claims, the side effects associated with many prescription medications, review of explanation of benefits statements, collection letters from medical providers who didn't get the reimbursement check from your insurance company yet, hospital visits, and nurses putting needles in your hind quarters. And you may be able to avoid using a bed pan ever!!!
Imagine how great it will be to be and stay healthy! And no matter what health care plan you are on, neither your government nor your insurance company are the primary beneficiaries of your health ... you are! So you ought to care about this! Best of all, most of what you can do to improve your health costs little or nothing. Certainly less monthly than the cost of a health insurance premium now or in 2020.
Personally ... I have a long way to go to keep myself healthy. It's a daily and sometimes hourly battle, but it's mine to persist or retreat. And in case anyone is wondering, I don't believe that we can prevent disease in all cases. In my case, I have two grandmothers that had diabetes ... I've been told it's quite possible that I will get it, too, unless I can maintain or lose weight, continue to exercise vigorously, and avoid megadosing on the triple chocolate brownies I made yesterday.
Unless we begin acting individually and proactively on the need for wellness, our health and quality of life will falter, regardless of what insurance plans are in place. So many contribute to their diseases with inaction or a series of wrong actions. Back when Earth Day began, the slogan was "A little bit of change makes a lot of difference." The same is true with health. The health care legislation, whether or not you wanted it, doesn't take effect for four years. You can begin protecting your health today. And you should. Just my two cents.
Disclosure: I'm on COBRA and will lose health insurance coverage in March 2011 unless I get another insurance plan through a new employer or private insurer. Since I was laid off from my corporate job, complete with generous health care benefits, I have taken up yoga, have improved my eating habits, and have noticed my stomach aches and headaches have all but disappeared. The urge to smoke paper towels, which I developed in high school chemistry, persists. And I still hate flossing.