A few days ago I was down to the local pub with a friend for a beer. Very busy as usual but we got seats outside, next to a couple in their sixties. Both were chain smoking and the lady had horrendous coughing attacks in regular intervals. Sounded as if she was coughing up not only her lungs but most of her inside, crouching over with a napkin over her mouth each coughing attack lasted 2-3 minutes. And the sound…. like having a helicopter hovering 10 feet above our heads. Anyway, as soon as the coughing attack subdued she had a sip of beer and lit up a new cigarette. This pattern repeated it self for the hour we sat there.
This little episode reminded me of a conversation I had with another couple in their sixties a few years back. They were both obese, at the time of the conversation they where eating pork knee with dumplings, drinking beer and then continued on with chocolate cake with whipped cream and rum to drink. They complained about the recent reform in the healthcare system and that the subsidy for their medicine against high blood pressure and some other welfare disease I can’t remember had been reduced and they now had to pay 20% more to get their medicine. This is in Czech Republic so the fee is still nominal, don’t remember the figures but something like an increase to 10 USD / 7 EUR for a 30 day supply of medicine. Don’t get stuck on the number, that’s not my point.
Back then, and now in the last few days, the two episodes pissed me off.
The smoking lady has chosen to kill herself with cigarettes but it’s my tax money that will try to save her life. OK, she started at the time when the health impact was unknown, when even doctors were featured in the cigarette ads and it’s sooo hard to quit and I am in favor of generous public healthcare so OK - I’ll contribute with my tax money save her. The obese couple with high blood pressure have chosen their life style but it is my tax money that is subsidizing their medicine and later trying to keep them alive after coronary disease and the rest of the obesity induced welfare diseases.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of a tax funded healthcare system for all. Good healthcare should not be down to money.
My point is: I want government subsidy for choosing a healthy lifestyle!
My fresh fish is more expensive than prefabricated pizza, the vegetable juice I make is more expensive than a can of soda. Just my Omega-3 fatty acid supplement is 60 USD / 40 EUR a month. I workout 3-4 times a week, get my hours of sleep, and I am not even speeding.
I make an active effort to stay healthy and self-sufficient as long as possible. But it’s the people who actively make an effort to kill themselves prematurely that get the government subsidy. That’s what’s pissing me off.
A while ago, I was told that in China the doctor is paid by his patient for keeping him healthy, not for treating illness. True or not, it raises an interesting perspective. The problem with Western medicine is that it’s all about illness, whereas Eastern medicine, like Indian Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, is all about wellness.
Western medicine is reactive, Eastern medicine is proactive. Why is this? My golden rule for analyzing anything in this world is to first understand how the money flows, then look at the issue from other perspectives. Take healthcare, there’s a lot more money in illness than in wellness. A pharmaceutical company earns a lot more money selling medicine against high blood pressure to the government for subsidized resale to the people than selling books and courses about diet and life style change to reduce the blood pressure. Remember the proverb: “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a life time”? The pharmaceutical industry is selling fish to the people whereas the government should require us to learn to fish.
But hey, I can’t blame the pharmaceutical industry, they are just satisfying a market demand and earning an honest dollar (a hell of a lot of honest dollars actually) in the process. True, they are satisfying a market demand – the demand for laziness. It’s very comfortable to go to the doctor, get your medicine and then continue on with your life as if nothing has happened. Because in this way the individual transfers the responsibility of her health to the doctor and the medicine. Between the bites from the pork knee, the pints of beer and the cigarettes the individual can sit there and complain that the medicine isn’t effective, and it’s bloody expensive, “… and maybe I should find myself a better doctor?”
And don’t forget the “It runs in the family, my parents, aunts, uncles and siblings all suffer from weight problems, it’s genetic you know!” argument. That’s the ultimate surrender to Western medicine. Denying all responsibility for your own health and putting your life in the hands of the pharmaceutical companies and the tax payers. You inherited you parents poor habits, it’s not in the genes to be obese.
Back to my point, I want government subsidy for choosing a healthy lifestyle!
Who’s in? Can we form a political party on this issue? I guess we can’t count on brib… lobbyi… sponsor… ehhh… hmmm…. donations, yeah donations from the pharmaceutical industry but maybe hopefully the lobbyists for the juice bars and gyms would throw us some change.
What do you think?
coronary disease, eat clean, government subsidy, health care, live consciously, medicine, obesity, pharmaceutical industry
I definitely recognize your point of view and to a certain extent agree with it. That said I have a few points to add:
- If there would be no government subsidy to avoid killing yourself, the price the state would have to pay to keep these people alive would rise to more than the current cost incl subsidy. That’s the logic of the subsidy. They’re not subsidized out of kindness. They’re subsidized because it makes the most sense.
That said I will start staring angrily at anyone lighting a cigarette or being more than slightly overweight.
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