Monday, January 25, 2016
A Tax on Joy in Life -Why We Underutilize Preventative Health Care.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. -Benjamin Franklin
So why do we avoid preventative health care? Much is written about why we underutilize preventative health services. And, much is expended trying to increase access to and use of preventative care. Indeed, a core of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), referred to as ObamaCare, is guaranteeing preventative care through any health insurance product sold in the USA.
Yet, the data indicates that we continue to avoid the offices of our doctors. Thus, access to care may be necessary but is insufficient for preventative health.
This baffling patient behavior has been studied and restudied by lofty academic institution, insurers and public health services. But, I suspect the reason for an avoidance is relatively simple.
Consumers perceive health care as a tax on joy in life.
And, taxes are to be avoided. Thus, doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals are avoided.
Ideally, one would love to live a life never having to need a doctor. After all, where would you rather spend a free hour of your afternoon--at a doctor's office or relaxing in a cafe with a treat? Any deviation from this expectation is unintended, undesired, creates angst and reduces joy.
Indeed, children know this. We take them into the doctor's office for their vaccinations which is a preventative strategy that confers better health and a longer life. Amazing population benefits, yes, but to that child who begins to cry the moment you walk into the doctor's office, life has suddenly become less joyful. A stick with a needle is a tremendous tax.
As adults, I suspect we make similar choices regarding risk-benefit analysis of seeing the doctor, even if subconsciously.
So, how do we create increased utilization of preventative health services among adults? After all, we are not children any longer and no one will drag us kicking and screaming to the doctor's office. The answer,
We have to speak to creating and preserving joy in life.