During the Cub’s game last night a commercial came on that ignited the inspiration for this newsletter. The commercial was for Humana, and the premise of it was that after Obamacare went into action there were 36 counties in the state of Mississippi that had no insurance coverage; that is until Humana came to the rescue and offered coverage in those areas. One of the actresses in the commercial said in the final seconds of the commercial “now, I can finally go back to my doctor and get healthy again.” Think about that for a second. This commercial implied that it is impossible to be healthy without health insurance, and that somehow having access to insurance will somehow magically make you healthier.
What does insurance actually do for you? Think about it. All insurance does is give you access to more doctors, more drugs, and more medical procedures. Does more access to these services necessarily make you healthier? Absolutely not. Sure it can help you if you run into health crisis, but it does not guarantee you health. Health is determined by your day to day lifestyle, not the insurance card in your wallet.
Let’s use blood pressure as an example. It is commonly understood that blood pressure is in large part a result of your lifestyle, regardless of your genetic predisposition. This point was made clear in the past few months by the comedian Penn Gillete from Penn and Teller fame. Penn was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and despite his family history of high blood pressure, his doctor informed him that if he was able to get his body weight down to 205 he likely wouldn't require medication at all. Penn took this to heart and set out to lose some weight and change his lifestyle. After dropping near 100 pounds, Penn’s BP was low enough that he was able to get off all medications. Let’s be clear, his insurance did not pay for his gym membership, it did not pay for his healthier food, and it likely did not pay for his personal trainer or nutritionist. It did, however, pay for his blood pressure medications.
Do blood pressure medications make you healthier? You may be thinking right now that it will lower your blood pressure, but is that making you healthier or just covering a symptom? If you answered that it is merely covering a symptom, you are correct. If Penn merely took a blood pressure medication to lower his BP, his pressure would have rose again simply if he stopped taking the medication. Since he instead took control of his health and lowered his BP through lifestyle changes, his BP will stay low for as long as he maintains his current lifestyle. Which option sounds better?
The commercial I spoke about above missed the mark. Insurance does not make you healthier, it just gives you access to more medications and more hospitals. That is not the mark of health. Do you really think another drug will make our country healthier? Do you really think that another procedure entered into the medical framework will provide our country true HEALTH? According to the World Health Organization, the United States takes more medications than any other nation, and spends more of its GDP on “health care” than any other nation in the industrialized first world, yet we rank nearly dead last in most major categories.
Your health is not the responsibility of your insurance carrier, your doctor, or your pharmacist. It is your responsibility.