Health Justice CT

Health Justice CT Blog

Who is to blame for poor health outcomes?

istock cryingchild-540x390Most Americans can agree that the current health insurance and employment landscapes are among the most pressing issues of the day. The data frame a portrait which includes: 7.7% unemployment (if that is the actual number) and 7.6 million children under 19 currently without any form of health insurance.

It is not difficult to state the importance of employment. However, it is a real magic trick to get all parties to understand why it is important to make available some forms of health care for all persons living in the United States, including undocumented persons (which is a matter of contention for another post).

In the debate  for affordable access to care, my crusade revolves tightly around personal choices, health responsibility, and how they contribute to health outcomes. Preparing myself to be a health care professional, I have established great value in the old saying, “Practice what you preach.” Interestingly enough I have been challenged in this, hearing statements like “you are an educated black man” or my favorite “you are already fit so it’s easy for you.” The truth is, my genetic makeup has set me up to be at risk for cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, alcoholism and other abusive behaviors (if you subscribe to nurture and learned behaviors).

quote rayemutchersonDoctors and policy makers play a major role in the health of the nation. That cannot be overstated. However, the general public seems to find it acceptable to not blame an individual who does not take responsibility for negative health outcomes related to poor personal choices.

I generally give a pass in the way of needing additional help to access and reach basic care needs i.e. mental health patients and the like, however it is extremely difficult for a pass to be given to individuals who have insurance, make the choice not to use it that consequently lead to poor health outcomes.

I pose this question; what would health look like if there were no health insurance system? I argue the ability to go to the doctor has little to do with a person’s choice to eat poorly, smoke, drink to excess and refuse to engage in physical activity. Additionally and more upsetting are individuals who have insurance and do not maintain proper check up.

My point is that many a large number of Americans have access to basic care, and do not use it.  That the health status of the nation does not measure to the level of access and great yearly costs.  For individuals with access to care, there are NO excuses for not maintaining basic care in the way of physicals and dental care.

In a previous conversation I pointed out the following, “…I am ready and waiting for ‘my’ Safe Living Discount.” Now imagine a system that had a checks and balance program where we received money back for “Safe Living” or conversely a Ticket for “Bodily Misconduct.” I VOTE YES.

Image credit: iStock

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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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