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What if we had to qualify for free healthcare?

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With the voting element of the Federal Election having calmly and peacefully (lols) passed us by over the weekend, a few of the policies came up in conversation which manifested into the concept for this blog post.

To avoid the risk of losing any of our 11 subscribers, we won’t get into opinions or preferences, but I did hear one proposition which I thought made some sense in relation to the public healthcare system.

Having free (or basically free) education and healthcare is a pretty great thing. Sure, textbooks and uniforms cost money, and sometimes queues at the hospital are long, but compared to a lot of alternatives, it’s a pretty good scenario. But with regards to healthcare in particular, there are some cases where as human-beings, we make questionable decisions but place the responsibility of the solution on others. We certainly all need help sometimes, but sometimes we are our own worst enemies and being facilitated by services such as free healthcare may not provide us or our communities with any long term solution. So what if free healthcare was provided on the basis that we actually had to demonstrate some level of responsible living?

In other words, to qualify for free healthcare, what if we had to participate in X number of hours of exercise each week, must limit our alcohol and soft-drink/fast food intake to a predetermined level, and be non-smokers (and probably also avoid consuming illegal narcotics, except at music festivals. Just kidding.) Implementation would obviously be complex, but some level of responsibility would be placed back on us as a community to live in a manner that promotes good health rather than smashing ourselves and expecting the system to fix us.

I know that the theory is very black and white and there are 51 shades of grey to the hypothetical, but perhaps as the health system comes under greater pressure from a growing population, it is worth considering.

Of course, if you are European soccer player wealthy, then you can freely Charlie Sheen it up and become the private healthcare system’s problem and disregard the above.

There are going to be cases where members of our community have various afflictions or addictions that are the basis of elements out of their control, and we need to take of care of them, without a doubt. But if we actively and purposefully choose to ignore health and wellbeing advice and repeatedly and willingly damage ourselves, should we expect a free health service to take responsibility for us when we refuse to do so ourselves?

UNITEDWhat if we had to qualify for free healthcare?

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  • Andy D - 08/01/2018 reply

    I’m not sure that the spectre of no free doctor visits is the thing that will stop someone drinking that sugary drink or eating that donut or smoking that cigarette.
    Your suggestion of an uncertain place in the healthcare line prompts thoughts of a Hobbesian Nightmare. The costs of not having a healthcare system are extremely high (e.g. see any country without universal healthcare)
    The social cost of having a class of people with no access to healthcare due to arbitrary (I know the system you have in mind isn’t arbitrary but no system is ever considered that way until implemented), laws would I fear make for a rather unpleasant outcome.
    It would also be unavoidable to see it in any other way than that we have given up on segments of the population.
    The experience of equivalent countries around the world is that where universal healthcare is freely accessible the general health of the country is higher. This could also be a by-product of the fact that countries with universal healthcare more commonly than not have a well-funded public education system and high (comparable to ours) taxes to pay for them.
    I think the more educated and informed the population the better the health outcomes.

    Presuming you would not want to see people dying on the streets or in their homes of curable ailments the better plan (for saving money) would seem to me to be the prevention of unwanted health issues in the first place. The most expensive part of our health system is hospitals. The final stop on a failed health journey.
    This brings us back to education. These things all align. Poorer the education, ther poorer the quality of life, poorer the health.
    Even simple things like the old “Life, Be in It” adds on tv in the 80s and the Slip Slop Slap adds, were said to have had a measurable and positive impact on the targeted health issues. (Please note this is anecdotal – I have not sighted the studies). Many of these initiatives were scrapped… To save money.
    But ultimately I think the whole exercise would appear flawed as it tends (unintentionally I’m sure) to be an exercise in looking to save money or punishing perceived wrongdoers rather than seeking better health outcomes for everyone. The best path may mean higher taxes and greater costs. But if it leads to healthier nation, ultimately worth it.

    UNITED - 08/01/2018 reply

    I suspect you are right Andy. The divide would likely come quickly and significantly. And the last thing our society needs is more division.

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