Wednesday, May 15, 2013

30 Minutes to Better Health

A report about the effect of Medicaid has been in the news recently. The quick summary is that having health insurance does very little to improve your health (although it may make you more financially secure and less depressed). These results are not really very surprising. Your personal behavior has far more to do with your health than does health care.
So, let's say you want to improve the health of the uninsured and you have two options. Under Option A, taxpayers are required to work for 30 minutes a day without compensation so that that money can be used to provide health care for the uninsured. That's about 6% of GDP (based on an 8-hour workday) which is in line with expected govt. expenditures on health care. Of course, these workers may have to work another 30 minutes to pay for their own health care. Under Option B, the uninsured would be required to exercise for 30 minutes a day.
I would argue that Option B would have more positive effects on the health of the uninsured (especially considering the evidence that Option A has little effect). I would also argue that Option B is fairer in that those who benefit from the plan would also be contributing to the plan. However, tax and spend policies similar to Option A, including Medicaid and Obamacare, are proposed while nobody other than me seems to be advocating anything related to Option B (as far as I know).
I'm not really a big fan of Option B from a civil liberties stand point, and I can't stand the idea of Big Brother making sure I do my sit-ups every morning. But it does raise a question. If someone won't devote 30 minutes of their time to improve their own health, why should I be expected to devote 30 minutes of my time to improve their health?

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