My Dear Reader,
I feel guilty. I asked myself as I leisurely strolled to work this morning whether there could be such a thing as “Black Privilege.” I decided “No”. One might be given additional “points” in a point system created by white people- but this is not privilege. There maybe some advantages like having stronger skin, but that is such a minor advantage – if an advantage at all- in the scope of this country’s social, educational and economical issues.
I got to this question by asking whether or not I should be held responsible for paying for a group of unhealthy Americans? The way Obamacare is set up in Maryland, I am paying for my unhealthy group of 60 year-olds who refuse to diet, exercise, stop smoking and generally fail to care for themselves. “This is not fair”, I said to myself as I walked by the large medical clinic in my neighborhood where outside people stood smoking.
I then thought to myself why doesn’t the Surgeon General of the United States create a sweeping campaign against smoking and bad eating? Then, I reminded myself, that there have been campaigns and the rate of smoking may have fallen, but people will keep smoking as long as there are tobacco lobbyists and the product remains available to consumers.
Then I became annoyed that there thousands of people who are overweight and on cholesterol medication and/or diabetes medication. Why isn’t there a sweeping campaign concerning eating well? We could cut the cost of expensive medicine by simply eating well. Then I remembered that there are big pharmaceutical companies with lobbyists who are promoting the dispensing of medicine rather than the curing of illness. Another deep sigh.
Then I thought perhaps it is my duty to help pay for a growing group of aging Americans. Despite the fact that I have worked hard, gotten educated and kept myself healthy, the Maryland Healthy Exchange is not structured for someone like me. Instead that system is designed to get me to help pay for people who need help with paying for their insurance. Certainly, I don’t want things to go back to where we were before Obamacare, but I want to get a cost break for staying healthy, just like I would get an auto insurance break for not getting into accidents or getting traffic tickets. I think there should be some element included in the calculation of health care cost for those of us who are healthy.
Naturally, thoughts of insurance had to make me think about our President Elect and wonder if he will look into the huge profits that insurance companies and drug companies are earning and do something about them. It is one thing to provide universal insurance- something the Obama administration tried to do, but could not; it is another thing to expose the structure, practices and profits of insurance companies and drug manufacturers. I think the next administration should focus on these issues rather dismantling a system, while not fair to the middle class, at least provides a health umbrella for those who may lose insurance and need help or just need help. However, a healthy person who does not burden the system should not have to pay the same as person who does burden the system- especially if their illnesses can be prevented or mitigated by healthy life style choices.
I don’t have an answer. I will keep walking to my office and eating healthy and exercising and hope as a country we begin a dialogue that being healthy is the new thing to do.