Skip to main content

Posts

Dueling Delusions in Health Advocacy: “Affordability” vs. “Personal Responsibility”

One side insists that we must have affordable health care for all.  The other side insists that individuals must take personal responsibility for their own health.
For the “affordability” advocates, they mean that individuals should all be able to pay an affordable amount for health care, even if that requires free or highly subsidized health care for many, such as Medicaid & the Affordable Care Act.
For the “personal responsibility” advocates,  they mean that many people choose to do unhealthy things, so they become unhealthy.  Why should “responsible” healthy people with healthy habits pay for them?  In fact, don’t free and subsidized health care encourage unhealthy behavior, since unhealthy people pay little for the consequences of their choices?
What the affordability proponents don’t discuss, is whether the country can afford to pay for widespread free or highly subsidized health care--especially when 60% have expensive chronic diseases, often starting in childhood and continuin…
Recent posts

Is K-12 Education Patriotic Enough?

Questions have been raised about whether education in America is patriotic enough.  There are even proposals from the Oval Office to invest $5B in making US education more patriotic.  But what is "patriotic education" and how can we make K-12 ed more patriotic?
These questions get very deep very fast.  If we want to educate people to become more pro-American, what is it that we want them to say is great about America?  And in cases where our country falls short of our ideals, how is our patriotism supposed to react to that?  
Some people would say that it is unpatriotic to complain about America.  Yet probably the most broadly revered part of the Bill of Rights, which in turn is probably the most revered part of our Constitution, is the 1st Amendment--guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion, the right "peaceably to assemble"--and the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  So if everything is already perfect, why would we need t…

Medical Advice as Theater of the Absurd

By now, it should be clear that doctors' admonitions to lose weight and exercise more have little impact on our long-term, day-to-day behavior.  We all know this already from sad personal experience.  But we also know it from many studies, and from the multi-decade worsening in Americans' obesity and other chronic conditions.  The medical profession has been begging us for countless years to improve our health behavior--to almost no avail.Yet the fantastical headlines persist, even in publications like the Washington Post"Losing 13 percent of your weight could lead to big improvements in your health"It is hard enough for adults to lose even 5 pounds and to keep it off--much less the 15-30+ pounds implied by "13%".  It is very rare to pull off sustained weight loss of this magnitude.  
In fact, the only proven way currently to achieve this much permanent weight loss, on a whole-population scale, is the last resort, when all else has failed--bariatric surger…

Our W.E. Op-ed with Heritage: A COVID-19 vaccine won't save us, but improving our health can

My op-ed with Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr (Ret.) at The Heritage Foundation was just published! There is clear potential for nonpartisan approaches to child health & wellness. We can do a much better job of developing healthy habits K-12, so that Americans have a much greater chance of a healthy life!:  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/a-covid-19-vaccine-wont-save-us-but-improving-our-health-can

Covid Karma, Chronic Hope, K-12

94% of US Covid-19 fatalities have been among Americans with chronic disease, according to recent CDC analysis.  Another way to look at this:  if we had pre-pandemic halved the current rate of 60% of Americans with 1 chronic condition and 40% with multiple conditions, we could have had roughly speaking less than 100,000 Covid-19 fatalities to-date.  Reducing chronic disease this much is not just hypothetical (though it is not easy either):  around ½ or more of chronic conditions are preventable.  The biggest catch?  They are only preventable at such a high rate, if we develop healthier habits in childhood.  If we enter adulthood with unhealthy habits, it is very difficult for people to change course.  Any strategy to dramatically improve overall health for most of the population rings hollow, if it does not start in childhood.  And any strategy to develop healthy habits in childhood rings hollow, if it is not centered in schools.  It is simply too expensive and logistically impractic…

National insecurity: self-inflicted threats from our health (rant #2)

The national security threat of an unhealthy population extends far beyond difficulties in enlisting fit military personnel.The military budget makes up about 20% of the federal budget. In contrast, health costs are now almost 50% of federal spending, many times higher than in the past.  Continued increases in government spending on health care pose a growing threat to military budgets.  Military spending has been at roughly 3-4% of GDP for the last 30 years.  In contrast, total US health costs over that same period have increased from 12% to 18% of US GDP.  Employers have passed an increasing % of health costs on to employees, resulting in higher employee premiums & out-of-pocket spending.  Average health costs per person have almost doubled over the last 30+ years. (Bad) health is absorbing a growing share of family spending, and reducing money available for anything else.  We are all paying for each others' health care, with the decreasing % of healthy individuals unsustain…

You thought 9/11 was bad? Pandemic threats to national security (rant #1)

We already knew that the chronic disease pandemic was creating a national security threat. The military has stated for years that it is having trouble recruiting, since so many young people are obese & unfit to enlist. Now we are realizing that our public health weaknesses have made us much more vulnerable to COVID-19...& to future infectious disease pandemics.  Not just our health, but our national security is at stake.Dr. Scott Gottlieb, until recently head of the FDA, just warned that future pandemics could present an "asymmetric threat" to the USA(starting in video at 5:25).  Think how much damage less than two dozen Al Qaeda terrorists did--now think much bigger.  Nearly 3000 Americans died in the 9/11 attacks--compared to >200,000 now expected to have died from COVID-19 in the coming months.Americans' much higher chronic disease prevalence magnifies this infectious disease risk.  Why wouldn't China, Russia, Iran or other hostile countries unleash mic…