Are we in a culture crisis because people prefer to spend money towards an unhealthy lifestyle than taking care of their health? Is there an attitude that I have do whatever I want and if I get sick the health system will still take care of me? Read this letter by Starner Jones, MD and you decide what to think. Should we take care of those whose vices will lead to diseases and health problems? Should those be “forced” to have more personal health reform? Difficult questions, but you know some of my answers if you read my earlier posts. Read this letter and decide what you think…
“During my last night’s shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with an expensive shiny gold tooth, multiple elaborate expensive tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone. Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid. She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.
And our Congress expects me to pay for this woman’s health care? Our nation’s health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. A culture that thinks “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow. Don’t you agree?
STARNER JONES, MD
Jackson , MS (letter published in the Mississippi Clarion, August 2009)
So, what do you think? Do you agree with this doctor that he doesn’t want his taxes to pay for this woman’s lifestyle risks? I could say to him, “bravo for speaking your mind, but I do find it surprising that you are so judgemental with some of your patients.” I wonder how this doctor treats morbidly obese patients too…is he one of the doctors that has bias against overweight people? (see my post on weight bias by medical professionals) Saying that, I will admit that you bring up one valid point I do agree with, which is we need to have more personal health reform because yes, too many people feel that “I can do whatever I want to because someone will always take care of me.” For me, personal health reform with more preventive programs that educate and push people to take more responsibility in their health.
This mentality, that you will always be taken of despite poor lifestyle habits is expensive and just wrong. We do need to take personal care of our health, not so much for the costs (which are exorbitant), but what about for our own self-esteem, our own family and friends that love us? We are in a culture crisis with our personal health! Those who do not take care of themselves…do you think that your personal health affects only you? No, it affects everyone in your entourage, your circle…when you are sick, everyone hurts. And, it is often very difficult to change lifestyle habits as we grow older, which is why we need to educate parents and caregivers on raising children to live healthy.
Dr. Jones, do we have to be so greedy and individualistic? You are a doctor, well-educated, highly prestigious field. Lucky you! Close your eyes to the tattoos, cellphones , shoes…remember that those who aren’t as lucky as you may need to show their personalities in other ways, sometimes through “flashy” items. How can you be so judgmental? As medical professionals we cannot put ourselves in that other persons shoes. We have to have an open mind…saying that we also need to push our patients to take an active role in their personal health reform at whatever level and changes they are capable of, knowing that in the end…it is up to them.