Finding Affordable Health Insurance Under Obamacare

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Finding affordable health insurance under Obamacare just got a bit more difficult with the procedural closing of the High Deductible Health Plan/Health Savings Account option. Chances are, most people reading this don't realize what they lost -- and therefore, they won't miss what they never knew they had. Nevertheless, losing this option was philosophically a step in the wrong direction as far as improving Americans' health goes.

The HDHP/HSA option was an encouraging step in the direction of putting the incentives in favor of the patient taking more responsibility for their own health.

This is rare, when government does something that is so philosophically correct. That is, it gave the American people a financial incentive to cut their health costs by investing in things that would actually improve their health.

Unfortunately, few Americans chose to use this option, perhaps partly because it wasn't heavily promoted.

Rather than bore you and myself with the details of what this little-used type of policy involved and why it went away, I would like to discuss the broader issue of Health vs. Health Care or "Why our inattention to doing what we can to promote our own health is driving up the cost of health care, not greedy insurance companies and multinational pharmaceutical corporations."

Yes, I am saying that we, my fellow Americans, are responsible for our high health care costs.

A Few Examples Should Suffice to Make My Point

Here is a quote from the U.S. Center for Disease Control Web site that makes my point for me: "Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S."

All of these diseases are connected to our reluctance to address our own health by controlling our weight, increasing our physical activity, abstaining from tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, and improving our nutrition.

At the highest levels of U.S. health policy, we are told that prevention of these killer and/or disabling diseases is possible, but somehow this valuable information doesn't sink into the consciousness of the average American.

We are too focused on having gustatory fun now -- and affordable health insurance later -- to take action to preserve our health.

We have all heard the phrase "An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure." Somehow, the true meaning and indisputable wisdom of this statement doesn't sink in to guide the actions of the average U. S. citizen.

The medical profession has added to our confusion by trying to redefine "prevention" with concepts like X-raying women's breasts annually to see if they have cancer yet (But I thought that ionizing radiation caused cancer...). For men "prevention of prostate cancer" was redefined as having a PSA test annually to allow your doctor to go on a fishing expedition to allow them to sell you on the necessity of removing tiny specks of cancer cells that rarely cause any trouble for older men.

This is why our health care costs are increasing. The key to reducing our medical expenses used to be under our control, but soon -- under Obamacare, when it comes fully into effect in 2014 -- we will lose our direct control over the costs over most of the conditions that ail us because we will lose the personal financial incentive to keep ourselves healthy.

Essentially, we all know what we should be doing to prevent obesity and diabetes, for example, but most of us don't do it. Why is that?

Why Is This So?

I think it is because we all swim in a sea of conflicting commercial messages that encourage us to give in to unhealthy food, drink, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use -- yes, and even habitual reliance on medical care for self-preventable illnesses.

Along with the advertisements for beer, pizza, chalupas, All Terrain Vehicles(which make exercise virtually unnecessary), we hear the pharmaceutical ads' tag line, "Ask your doctor if _________ is right for you."

We have been subtly persuaded that, even when our children fail to obey us, it is a disease -- and the pharmaceutical industry has a pill to manage it for only $75 a month.

We are told, enough times that we hear it in our sleep, "You deserve a break today -- at McDonald's". Since when has unhealthy food become a luxury?

Am I saying No One Should Ever Indulge in Any of these Less-Than-Healthy Activities? No, I'm Not

It is definitely possible to occasionally enjoy a ride on an ATV or motorcycle or a meal at Pizza Hut, IF one makes a concerted effort the rest of the week to actively promote their health. A half hour jog the first thing nearly every morning is pretty good affordable health insurance against much of the damage that our MSG-enhanced food choices can do, for example.

How Many of Us Do Anything Sufficient to Burn Off the Calories We Consume?

(But why content ourselves with limiting our progress toward health with "two steps forward and only one step backward?" I have seen the alternative to health that led to the slow and painful deaths of relatives and friends, so I want to see how healthy I can be...for ALL my life. But that's just me, I suppose.)

My point is that although the U.S. Center for Disease Control tells us we can prevent most of the chronic degenerative diseases that cause us misery and death, their appeals for us to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle are drowned out by the noisy ruckus of big businesses encouraging us to live it up. And we hear that message more often than we hear the CDC's quiet truths.

The Future of Affordable Health Insurance

If our government really wanted to help us become more healthy, it would stack the incentives in favor of us doing what it takes to achieve that result. I realize that is not going to happen.

In fact, with the Supreme Court's approval of Obamacare as a legal tax that effectively will close the positive incentive of the Health Savings Account, we have just taken a step backward that removes a big incentive for personal health responsibility.

None of the actions of government or the temptations posed by business interests need to distract intelligent, self-interested individuals from doing what it takes to obtain excellent health. Nobody is forcing us -- at this point, anyway -- to eat junk food and neglect regular physical exertion in favor of sitting on the couch and watching the Beautiful People live out our fantasy life for us.

Nobody Is Forcing Us, But the Majority of Incentives To Over-eating and Physical Inactivity Will Likely Will Win the Battle -- and Bankrupt Obamacare

For the majority of Americans, though, Obamacare will further lull them into believing that they can continue to wreck their health with poor food choices, inactivity, and drugs-and-alcohol instead of constructive efforts to relieve the stress our crazy lifestyle causes.

On my Web site, you can find, not only Affordable Health Insurance, but also the methods that respected (but under-appreciated) doctors have proven prevent and reverse many of the Lifestyle Diseases that plague us -- all without expensive and dangerous surgeries and drug treatments:

Preventive health care, undertaken by the individual, is the only real hope of lowering the burden of medical care and making affordable health insurance a reality for all of us.

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Comments 2 comments

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I believe that the Affordable Health Care Act is offering incentives in enrolling in Wellness programs. An employer will discount insurance rates for employees that enroll in wellness programs such as smoking cessation programs and weight loss programs. Here's a link to an article describing it. http://www.healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/br...

Hopefully these incentives will work. I completely agree with you that we have to take responsibility for lowering health care costs by taking care of our own health through proper exercise and diet. Any program that promotes wellness rather than taking care of sickness is the way to go.


Paul Kemp profile image

Paul Kemp 4 years ago Author

Thank you for pointing that out to me. I confess I haven't read the whole thing or even a concise summary. I am glad they have included such incentives. I was just a little miffed that the HSA program was going to take a hit from the ACA.

Another problem I have with the Obama health care legislation as I understand it -- and what I had liked about the HSA program -- was that now, I can't use the ACA coverage I will be forced to buy to pay for vitamins, chiropractic care, or other alternative therapies.

As always, I look forward to your comments to shed new light on my sometimes myopic perspective. Thanks for sharing something I wasn't aware of. (I'm not being partisan -- I dislike both parties about equally.)

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