Improving Americans’ health starts with conscientious living, advised Dr. Nicole Saphier, a board certified physician and author of Make America Healthy Again: How Bad Behavior and Big Government Caused a Trillion-Dollar Crisis, offering her remarks on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.
America’s overall health is best improved through better individual management of controllable lifestyle variables, Saphier noted, contrasting her recommendation with political propositions for increasing centralized control of healthcare resources.
Marlow identified healthy living as the primary ingredient of preventative healthcare. He said, “The most expensive part the most expensive part [of our healthcare system] is our bad behavior, us continuing to do things that hurt ourselves, creating comorbidities and issues that will recur throughout our lives that we can prevent.”
Saphier concurred, “People love to blame someone else for certain things, and one thing I really tried to do in this book was highlight how much we actually have control over making a change.”
Healthcare policy is best calibrated when it incentivizes conscientious behavior, Saphier explained.
“The Affordable Care Act took away [any] financial penalty for bad behavior [and] irresponsible behavior,” Saphier stated. “With freedom comes responsibility, and in my opinion, the Affordable Care Act and single-payer plans take away the responsibility aspect, so then you’re going to have everybody offsetting the care for some of these bad behaviors.”
Subsidizing irresponsible behavior through ostensibly egalitarian healthcare policy causes “rationing of care,” warned Saphier. She further noted that such policies do not reduce demand for healthcare goods and services through individually-induced improvements to overall health.
Largely preventable illnesses and chronic conditions were significant drains on America’s healthcare system before the coronavirus outbreak, Saphier observed.
“COVID-19 has really shown us our vulnerability to having such a large amount of chronic illness throughout our country,” Saphier stated, “When you have chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes or just being overweight, that lowers your immune system and your ability to fight off viral infections.”
Saphier continued, “[The coronavirus outbreak] also showed us that we don’t have a surplus of hospital beds or ventilators or PPE because our hospital systems — our medical system — is already overrun with all of our chronic illness. Out of the people who are dying from [COVID-19] in the United States, 97 percent of them have at least one comorbidity or one pre-existing condition.”
Saphier added, “Unfortunately, this is the hard truth. Up to 80 percent of some of these chronic medical illnesses can potentially have been prevented.”
The Affordable Care Act did not incentivize conscientiousness or disincentivize negligence in the realm of personal health, Saphier remarked.
“The Affordable Care Act missed a big piece — and in my opinion, took us away from a healthier nation — because it took away any incentive for actually living a healthier life and actually going and getting your screenings,” Saphier stated.
The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) pre-existing conditions clause removed incentives for diligent living, assessed Saphier, shifting financial burdens for healthcare from irresponsible to responsible persons.
Saphier said, “Even though it was the most popular provision — the whole pre-existing conditions clause — what did that say? It said, ‘You can live however you want, and you don’t have to pay more for your health insurance because of it, but the person next door who’s doing everything they can to live their healthiest life, they’re going to help offset your cost of care.'”
America’s focus should include emphasis on healthier living through exercising individual agency in terms of lifestyle, determined Saphier.
“We will never be able to improve our healthcare system as long as we don’t focus on the demand side,” noted Saphier. “The demand side being the amount of people that are seeking medical care, and unfortunately … until you actually focus on lessening the amount of people who require health care, none of these healthcare policies will work.”
Saphier continued, “Our system right now is already overrun with chronic illness, so just giving people health insurance cards does nothing.”
Saphier urged Americans to make small improvements in their lifestyles, noting that seemingly modest adjustments — either by the addition of positive behaviors through the reduction of harmful habits — accrue to large outcomes over time.
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