Thursday, March 21, 2013

Which Vice Would You Ban?

I am wary of the great strides the Obama administration has taken in creating national electronic medical records.  On the one hand, it will make it easier to coordinate treatment when several doctors and specialties are involved.  And of course we won't have to rely on someone correctly decrypting a physician's illegible notes.  On the other hand, if you follow the money here, this enormous invasion of privacy will at some point walk us right into the maw of the insurance industry.

No pre-existing condition, maybe.  But higher premiums if you cross a line someone involved in your health care has drawn in the sand, absolutely.

It chills me to hear my liberal friends support penalties for obesity (my own particular vice).  And let me just add that I was also opposed to higher premiums for smokers.  Raise taxes on cigarettes?  Okay.  But charging an individual more for health care because of a life style vice is the ultimate in corporate control.

When we start to agree to forcing people to share health information (and let's face it, you can't go to your doctor and refuse to sign their disclosure agreement, at the very least because you will be unable to get insurance reimbursement if you don't sign away your right to patient confidentiality), we are opening ourselves up to abuses from all sides.

I have said here before that I would be much happier if Michelle Obama fought harder for living wages and working conditions that allowed parents to be with and better care for their children than by fighting that concept called "obesity".  Nice that she can go out to her garden with some elementary school class and model nutrition.  Harder for a mom who works full time and then has to schlep the kids to after school activities.  Not to mention a parent that works full-time and still can't afford (or have time to cook) healthy meals.

Then there is the issue of which vices are currently scorned. Mike Bloomberg wants to control soda size as well as guns.  We have laws that force us to wear seat belts in our very own cars but cells phones on the road are still okay.

And we should know by now that the vices that are going to be most legislated are those that most affect women.  Want to carry a gun into a bar here in South Carolina?  No problem.  After all, freedom is an important concept here.  But contraceptive freedom?  Suddenly we have caretakers who are going to oversee our sexual activity, and the consequences.

Yes, this is a rant.  There are times when I communicate more rationally, but today I am frustrated and just feel the need to to go on about all the things that don't make sense, and that invade our privacy, and those that proselytize and legislate based on their own personal values.

Here is where I draw my line regarding who's free to do what:  your freedom ends where my safety and comfort begin.  You want to drive without a seat belt, it may be literally your funeral, but it's not my business.  I eat too much, but there are ways my life is much healthier than yours that nobody asks about in the doctor's office.  Don't speed on roads I am driving on, and don't bring your gun out to any public place.

And when I see my doctor, I want to talk to her knowing she is not merely complying with reporting requirements; in fact, our appointments would be more productive without all the now required data gathering.  And it does not matter how well-intentioned national electronic medial records may be, it is a concept that flies in the face of all we know about confidentiality and privacy.  And it will come back to haunt us, whatever our vice.

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