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With Mandated Healthcare, Your Healthcare Freedom of Choice is at Risk

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On May 11, President Obama stated at a news conference, “I will not rest until the dream of healthcare reform is achieved in the United States of America.” A Wall Street Journal article opined that “the Obama administration . . . is convinced it is smart enough to engineer more efficient medical practices out of D.C.” And earlier this month, Obama urged twenty-four Senate Democrats not to procrastinate on overhauling the US healthcare system: “We can’t afford to put this off.”

AAHF feels that a key issue of healthcare reform needs to be the freedom to choose the healthcare options that suit an individual’s needs. Healthcare insurance administered by the government that is mandated for all may give pause to those Americans who have been enjoying healthcare freedom of choice, limited though it may have been in the current hodge-podge system of US healthcare. If, for example, you had Medicare coverage, but you decided to opt for non-covered services (such as nutrition-based therapy), you had the option to pay for it individually out-of-pocket. Nutritionally oriented physicians were forced to opt out of Medicare to offer these non-covered services to Medicare policyholders, but ultimately the healthcare consumer received the services they desired.
But does mandated, government-run health insurance achieve the same result—particularly if the goal is to control healthcare costs to make health insurance affordable for all Americans? The financial waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid are legendary. The Government Accountability Office’s former head stated in a Fox Business TV interview that waste is the most important issue regarding current government-run healthcare.
According to a study published in January’s Value in Health, 7% of Americans were diagnosed with type II diabetes in 2005. That translated to $171 billion annually in hospital costs—which didn’t account for doctor visits, medications, lost productivity, and the like; that total was estimated at around $190 billion annually. In 2009, fully 10% of Americans are now diagnosed with type II diabetes, with another 40% being pre-diabetic, so the costs this year will be significantly higher.
The current approach to diabetic treatment has now been scientifically scrutinized. Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 were enlightening. Australian and New Zealand researchers found that more patients died in the group with tightly regulated blood sugar levels than those cared for a more flexible or individualized protocol. And the ACCORD trial was discontinued seventeen months before its scheduled end because so many diabetics died in the group with tightly controlled blood sugar. On top of that, the Wall Street Journal reported that a large NIH- and drug company-funded study of diabetics diagnosed with heart disease found that the aggressive use of expensive diabetic medications like Avandia and Actos did no better than cheaper treatments at preventing deaths, heart attacks, or strokes.
Yet little heed has been paid to the work of Harvard public health and nutrition researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine eight years ago which concluded “that the majority of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by the adoption of a healthier lifestyle.” How effective was “a healthier lifestyle”? In 2005, Dr. Walter Willett told the American Society for Nephrology that as much as 90% of type II diabetes could be prevented with proper lifestyle choices.
One doesn’t need a degree in economics to see how much money we can save by making simple and affordable lifestyle changes—not to mention being able to eliminate further healthcare concerns related to diabetes (nephropathy, neuropathy, retinopathy, failure to heal wounds, heart disease).
A case pending in U.S. District Court is claiming that forced participation in Medicare infringes on one’s right to privacy and makes choices about one’s healthcare that violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Lead plaintiff Brian Hall charges the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with improperly adopting illegal and coercive policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their rightful Social Security benefits if those retirees choose not to enroll in Medicare, the federal government’s voluntary health insurance entitlement program. Visit www.medicarelawsuit.org for more details.
There is no evidence to suggest that government-mandated healthcare is more cost-effective, prolongs lives, or even improves the quality of life. In fact, our current system, which pushes prescriptions and procedures, is just the opposite: it is costly, and does not produce superior results when dealing with chronic degenerative disease. Freedom to choose one’s healthcare is a basic issue that must not be trampled just because we now have a “we can’t afford to put this off” mentality.
Congress has a stated goal of enacting comprehensive healthcare reform before its summer recess begins on August 10. AAHF is following this legislative process and working to see that alternative and complementary healthcare options are treated fairly, and that true preventative care and the encouragement and support of healthy lifestyles is a priority.

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