Monday, September 03, 2007

A slippery slope

Laws are very blunt objects. Using them to bludgeon people into certain behaviors puts society on a slippery slope. And at the bottom of the slope is a loss of our freedoms, even the freedom to make bad decisions.

A presidential candidate this past weekend asserted that everybody should have medical coverage. Good, good. He goes on, "[The coverage] requires that everybody get preventive care." We're getting a little further down the slope here, but I'm still listening. And here's the kicker:

"If you are going to be in the system, you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK."

A couple of assumptions here scare me. One, doctors don't make you healthy. Healthy habits keep a person healthy. You will never hear me use the word "health" to refer to the medical establishment. They treat you when you're sick. Staying healthy is your responsibility. Two, the candidate assumes that I even want to be part of the "system." He says everyone should be covered and that the coverage should require preventive care. So, who's going to enforce that? Is the government going to have access to my medical history and tell me when I need to visit a doctor? I wonder what the "Keep your laws off my body" crowd has to say about this one.

I often say that something about the delivery of medical care in this country has got to change in my lifetime. And it's easy too look at the current system and feel that government is the only solution to this problem. Notice I said "feel," not "think."

Because if you think it through, it's a very bad idea to turn over the delivery of medical care to the government. When government pays, they will have a say in your personal life. And here's what is at the bottom of that slippery slope:

Conservatives in Britain are proposing that patients who refuse to change their unhealthy lifestyles should not be treated by the country's nationalized health system. Certain treatments should be denied to patients who refuse to co-operate with health professionals and live healthier lifestyles, they say.

And those who do improve their general health would receive "Health Miles" cards. Points earned could then be used to pay for health-related products such as gym membership and fresh vegetables. Read more here.

Are you comfortable with that? I'm not.

And just for fun, here is a funny (and scary) example of what our future might hold.


Hi, My name is: Tim said...

Health Miles:

The problem is that the people here proposing this system would rather give these "Health Miles" to those underprivileged people who NEED them more than those who already take an active role in their own lives. Certainly THOSE (healthy) people can fend for themselves... they are doing it already, right? We need to help the poor huddled (over their McD's drive-thru) masses (pardon the pun).

Hi, My name is: Tim said...

Wait... All of this AND a positive reference to an ACLU publication? Are you feeling OK Josee?