Healthcare and education are extremely similar, so much so they we have labeled them “Twins in Trouble” (in the journal Total Quality Management). Both are critically important to us both as individuals and as a nation. In each, the outcomes occur years-to-decades in the future as a result of actions we take now.
Healthcare and education both have major cost concerns as well as challenges in measuring positive outcomes the outcomes we want.
In both healthcare and education, the person who pays is different from the person who consumes (receives) the service. Contrast these two crucial industries with purchasing other products such as a car or buying other services such as dry cleaning.
Just recently, the President emphasized that getting an education was a vital personal responsibility. The country should provide for and encourage people to become educated because in that way, the country and the individual gain. Thus, by accepting our personal responsibility we ‘do good’ both for us and for the USA.
On education, President Obama spoke like President Kennedy who said in his 1961 inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” President Kennedy – a true leader – focused on our obligations to our country and to each other, rather than our rights or entitlements.
When President Obama gave his speech on healthcare, he made no mention of personal responsibility. It did not seem to exist. What I am going to write below may not be popular or even welcome. It is what our President should have said but chose not to. In contrast to President Kennedy, saying what is popular is much more important than saying what is necessary.
Most people tend to see a right as our due – something we should have or get without personal effort. We are passive. We just receive health care – it is delivered like the mail. We have no responsibility. If we view rights that way, we are in error.
Even the Bill of Rights carries with it responsibilities. Our founding fathers never envisioned one without the other.
Health care cannot be a right is because it is a service that must be provided by others. What if no one went to medical or nursing school? This is not just a theoretical concern. Applications to medical schools have consistently fallen off over the past ten years. There are over 500, 000 open nursing positions in our country. For us to have our ‘right’ to health care, some other person must provide it. Who? Should health care providers be slaves?
Good health requires a partnership of person and provider, actually of person and process. If we reject any personal responsibility, then we over eat to obesity and expect health care to just take care of our diabetes, arthritic knees, and coronary heart disease. It’s not our responsibility because health care is a right. If we reject any personal responsibility, then we smoke cigarettes and spend OPM (other people’s money) on treating our emphysema or lung cancer.
There are only two people who can control health care costs: us or the Government. The President has made it clear that our national expenditures on health care are an increasing drag on the whole country. One of three things will eventually happen.
A) We will spend ourselves into bankruptcy.
B) The Government will control costs. Government controlling expenditures = rationing. That is how every “universal health care” country controls its costs: they just never use the R-word (rationing).
C) We can control costs. Yes, we can: by reconnecting us with our money, and by us demanding a true healthcare SYSTEM, instead of what we have now: separate groups all out for themselves with us as their victims.
The first step to fix healthcare is to accept our personal responsibilities and not put them off on the government or OPM. THAT is what the President should have said.