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Are you getting your ‘bang for your buck’ with Obamacare?

“Recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system.” – Forbes 2011

It is this rhetoric that fuels some public health officials and Obama supporters.  I can picture it, a political team or polling group in a closed room discussing these numbers, half the room giving of high fives “the program is working” and a small contingent in the corner asking “what does this really mean in the grand scheme of health CARE.”The Affordable Care Act, heavily debated in 2008, addressed the fiscal health of the insurance industry.  Recalling the President addressing the nation draped by nurses along with Connecticut’s own Sen. Christopher Dodd in the rose garden, I wondered, why we are missing the big picture. Fiscal health albeit important is not the championship ring sought.

This time in history, as many found, should have been called the Health Insurance debate. American Care and the promise of better quality of life should be the headliner among the long line of issues, stealing center stage.

“So make no mistake, the status quo on healthcare is not an option for the United States of America. It’s threatening the financial stability of families, of businesses, and of government. It’s unsustainable, and it has to change,” stated President Obama. But was this a plea for merely increased numbers of insured Americans or is the President hoping that care and over all wellness, as it is in my mind, be the driving force behind this exhausting process?

The current landscape of health in the United States requires that the election year agenda be focused on strategies to improve HEALTH. Continuing to disregard health outcomes will undoubtedly perpetuate the status quo of American wellness.  Any of us can Google world rankings looking at snap shot after snap shot of health for Americans relative too our worldly neighbors.

The beauty of numbers are that they don’t lie and paint very sharp images regarding obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer etc. The United States continues to rank middle of the pack to the bottom, all while spending approximately 16% of our gross domestic product (twice that of Japan and 60% more that Germany).  This very scenario feels like a mythical world where the Yankees continue to spend millions, only to reveal it was all for show and there is really is no parade nor championship rings to boast.

I think about who or what entities need to take the lead.  Would it be the American Nursing Association (ANA) who is best equipped to teach and advocate for patient rights and overall care, or is it the mighty American Medical Association (AMA) which has a heavy thumb in the health industry.

Wait, we are forgetting the ever powerful and influential patient. This agenda will need a patient voice which will resonate with the presidential candidates, AMA, ANA, etc. Better living and a healthy America cannot be a slogan or a political weight forgotten after inauguration. There needs to be significant change in patient attitudes and health delivery merging access to care to health benefits.

As a medical researcher and future health care provider, I believe the answer is simple.  What should be part of the political agenda for the current election year?  How do we translate large amounts of spending and possible mandates to a better quality of life, healthy choices and overall increased wellness?

I heard this recently and it makes sense “…health insurance is similar to auto insurance, just because everyone has it doesn’t mean there are less accidents…”  With that in mind I am ready and waiting for ‘my’ Safe Living Discount.

Raye J. Mutcherson II, Ph.D. is genetic researcher, public health advocate, teacher, and soon-to-be clinical research nurse. Connect with Raye on twitter.

Disclaimer: Health Justice CT provides a public forum for conversations, ideas and collective action. The opinion expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HealthJusticeCT or our funder.

Image: President Obama, Senator Dodd in the Rose Garden with the American Medical Society.

About Raye Mutcherson

Raye J. Mutcherson II, Ph.D. is genetic researcher, public health advocate, teacher, and soon-to-be clinical research nurse. Connect with Raye on twitter. Learn more about Raye here.

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