Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wellness = Health Care

ABC Widgets doesn't just watch all its employees toddle off to its competitors. It also hires new employees.

If "wellness" were more prevalent, those new employees would bring with them whatever health improvements were gained from their previous employer's "wellness program". So ABC Widgets, by offering a wellness program to its employees, would not necessarily be improving its competitor's bottom line. If, that is, "wellness" were more prevalent.

Well then, why isn't "wellness" more prevalent?

And must "wellness" be a "program" that you pay someone to "provide" for you?

I think wellness is health care. The so-called health care debate is not really about health care, it is about medical care. That may be a fine point, and so long as the discussion is really about medical care, perhaps no harm is done. But I think when the attention turns to wellness the distinction must be drawn between health care and medical care. And that is when the similarity (I would say equivalence) of health care and wellness becomes apparent.

Whichever you prefer to call it, the terms wellness and health care include what we can do for ourselves, to keep ourselves . . . healthy.

We can exercise (free). We can get adequate sleep (free). We can steer clear of substance abuse of all kinds (free). We can keep a reasonable diet (free). We can always wash our hands (free). We can hold it down to 85 on the Interstate (free). We can stop smoking or never start (better than free). To a great extent we already have free health care in the U.S.

Why, I wonder, aren’t more people taking advantage of free health care? Free is affordable. What's the problem?

Maybe we're just too busy to do these free things for ourselves. Maybe we're too occupied debating the need for someone to bring us a "program" to "deliver" a lot of "health care" from "providers" who supply it at "affordable" cost. Sounds to me like the present debate.

And, maybe, we are distracted because the present debate is being conducted in terms that are unclear, inconsistent and confusing. Examples? (1) Health care and medical care are the same; (2) “affordable coverage” can somehow reduce the cost of medical care instead of the other way around; (3) wellness is a program that should be included in an insurance plan. There are other examples.
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