UK health care critics want slackers to pay more for insurance

Earlier this week, I told you about my recent experience dealing with my health insurance—and how I firmly believe healthcare in this country needs a drastic overhaul. But the US isn’t the only country whose health care system has drawn criticism lately.

I’m talking about the British National Health Service (NHS). According to an article I read recently, the Brits are fed up because certain obstinate individuals are abusing the NHS.

They assert that the free health care provided by the NHS has led to a sort of “entitlement mentality.” People no longer feel the need to take care of themselvesbecause they have the NHS to pick up the pieces. So they smoke themselves into breathing difficulties, or overeat their way into obesity, and expect a team of medical experts to come to the rescuewhen problems set in.

According to the article I read, this way of thinking has resulted in 60% of adults in the UK becoming overweight or obese. (Appallingly, the US obesity rate is actually higher than 60%.)

With these statistics in mind, a business strategist in the UK has proposed that the NHS follow a model established by the private health care system in that country. You see, the UK’s private health care system rewards those who look after themselves by keeping premiums low.

So the idea is that people who abuse their bodies by smoking, eating poorly, and not exercising enough should pay more towards the NHS than those who take better care of themselves.

Naturally it would take a business person to even suggest such a thing since business people are all about the bottom line. But since I am all about keeping your “bottom line” from getting any bigger (and, in turn, preventing any number of obesity-related diseases), I wholeheartedly agree with this person.

I pay a fortune for health insurance that I rarely use. And when I do, what do I get?

Denied, denied, denied.

Honestly, when I received the litany of denials I told you about earlier this week from my insurance company, I thought, “If I couldn’t afford it, I certainly wouldn’t be getting any of this done.” We simply have no incentive to stay healthy in the US. Which means, in essence, our system—like the NHS—is designed to encourage people to get sick and then deal with the catastrophe later.

But at least in the UK they recognize that it’s a problem—and are calling for change.

So why aren’t we banding together to demand the same thing here? Oh, I forgot—we decided to “take one for the team” and accept the Affordable Health Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). This is the HMO debacle all over again.

Let’s not forget that HMO’s were supposed to lower health care costs. What did they do? Increased premiums and lowered access to health care. So what do you think is going to happen with the Affordable Care Act?

It’ll be a boon for the insurance industry and a debacle for us.

But if you incentivize these systems, perhaps it would promote healthier eating and healthier lifestyles among the public. Rather than viewing it as a punishment, it should really be viewed as a way to change the conversation and the school of thought—on a national scale—about what it means to take responsibility for your health and how much you spend for health care.

But perhaps my favorite part of the NHS overhaul proposal? The Brits want the food industry to assist the NHS to become a more “disease preventative”healthcare system rather than a “sick care system,” because good food and nutrition is the best way to prevent disease and ensure a healthy population.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.