Monday, September 28, 2009

Your Own Health Care Reform

If it seems like there is a lot of finger-pointing in the health care debate, that is because of the nature of the subject. You have to take on a victim mentality to accept the premise of the debate. The assumption is that how healthy a person can be depends mostly on the actions of others. It is a short step from waiting for others to do something to blaming them for their lack of action.

Yet this is not a particularly empowering approach to life. If you want action on your own health, the simple place to start is with your own action. That’s not to say that you won’t run into problems when you try to improve your health. As Tara Stiles put it, “We have to be present, aware, and involved in our choices to maintain health and educate and inspire those around us to create a healthier society. Our world can be an obstacle course for good health. We have to gather the tools to navigate efficiently so we can live healthy, and enjoyable lives.”

It’s not that we don’t know where to start. Everyone knows something simple they can do for their health that they’re not doing, at least not consistently. Stiles quotes Bill Maher ragging on people for whom a political march was “the first exercise they’ve gotten in years.” It’s funny because it’s true. The best thing to do if you want to be healthy is to get started on what you already know. This works best if you are healthy now — it is easier to avoid illness than to cure it. And in case you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort, these are just some of the benefits of improving your health:

  1. When you’re more healthy, you have more ability to work. You might get more work done, get a better job, get a bigger raise, keep your job when everyone else is laid off.
  2. Avoiding illness means less work for everyone who would have had to help you with your illness. This includes everyone from members of your household to the clerks at the insurance company. Less work, of course, could mean you’re spending less money.
  3. You can live longer and feel better.
  4. If more people are healthy, health care won’t be so expensive, and that will make it easier to get health care reform passed.
  5. You’ll have more energy and make a bigger impression on people. That means you’ll be more popular.

Undertake your own health care reform, and you won’t have to spend so much time wondering what the politicians will eventually decide. And as I said, this works better if you don’t wait till you’re sick. It’s not really fair, but it’s true: the healthier you are, the easier it is to take action to stay healthy. At the same time, the sicker you are, the more urgent it is make yourself healthier. Either way, don’t wait. It’s no fun to be waiting for someone else to do something about health care reform. It feels better to take action, to do what you can to create your own health.