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Healthcare and Responsibility

When it comes to health insurance many consumers apparently have the same cavalier attitude that they have about their own medical care.

A recent survey for online broker InsuranceQuotes.compolled over 1, 000 adult consumers about their knowledge of insurance and the Affordable Care Act. Among the findings:

·       Nearly 60% of respondents weren’t sure if they would qualify for the ACA’s health insurance subsidies, which will be available on a sliding scale for households with incomes up to $94,000
·       Almost 70% of those at or near the poverty line weren’t aware that they were subsidy-eligible
·       And nearly two-thirds of respondents who said they were uninsured still don’t know if they’ll buy insurance with or without the subsidies before January.

Worse than that, nearly two-thirds of respondents say the new law will result in more, not less, expensive healthcare. Fewer than half said the law would result in an improvement in the health of Americans.

The law’s proponents say that the survey results prove that consumers are misinformed about the new health law.  I disagree. Especially when a search of the term “Affordable Care Act” leads you directly to a variety of the government’s own sites, including the White House.

The only thing easier than finding information on the ACA is blaming the law’s opponents for survey results like these. Ten percent uninformed about the law I could see. Twenty percent. But when you’re looking at two thirds of the people the law was intended to help unsure and apparently unconcerned about whether they’ll take advantage of the ACA’s benefits, I don’t think you can pin it on cable TV or insurance companies.

I think if the survey proves anything it proves that no matter how much government might like to help people, some people don’t want the help. Think about it: How much have we as a nation, through our taxes, insurance rates and cost of goods purchased, paid for wellness programs? Smoking cessation advertising and classes? Gym memberships? The results? Conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease are at still at epidemic levels. And still you have consumers, including children, sitting on their butts for hours at a time, watching TV, chowing down a bag of Fritos and washing them down with a liter of their favorite sugary drink.

Let’s face it. Consumers themselves shoulder a lot of the blame for the nation’s health crisis. Congress and the president engineer a law to re-shape what by year 2021 will be 20% of the economy, and you ask those people the law was intended to help if they’re going to take advantage of it and the answer is a shake of the double chins and a puzzled “I dunno.”

Call it misinformed or uninformed; it’s the same thing. You live in this country for four years of screaming 105 decibel debates over the ACA and you still don’t know whether you’re going to buy insurance, or if you’re even eligible for it? That’s the real problem with the ACA. Being uninformed and unsure about the law goes hand in hand with bad lifestyle choices, overeating, not taking your meds, or not getting checkups.

The fact is that too many consumers are divorced from their own health care.

They’re divorced from the responsibility of keeping themselves healthy and figuring a way to pay for it so the rest of us don’t have to.

That’s the real problem with the ACA. And until you solve that, until you make people responsible for their own well-being, you’re going to continue to have this rancorous and now pointless debate.