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Health Is a Personal Choice, a Freedom, and a Responsibility

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When reading through the proofs of this issue of MD-UPDATE, I was drawn to two quotes by our featured physicians.

“What I am most interested in is allowing people to take advantage of what they have control over, and that is their health,” says Suzanne Rashidian, DO, OB/GYN, One Health Obstetrics and Gynecology, part of Owensboro Health on page 15.

“Healthcare is rapidly changing in the United States. People are now expected to take more responsibility for their own health,” says Deborah Ballard, MD, MPH, internal medicine specialist with KentuckyOne Health on page 7.

I believe that health is a personal choice, a freedom, and a responsibility. I also understand that we don’t have complete and total control over every aspect of our health, but the Kentucky “uglies,” namely smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and prescription drug abuse are lifestyle choices.

Dr. David Bensema, KMA president and chief information officer at Baptist Health Kentucky, writes in a May 6, 2015 editorial in the Lexington Herald Leader that the health system, including payees and the state and federal government, contain “unnecessary roadblocks.” Bensema says, “We should take this opportunity to build a system for Kentucky that achieves the goals [set forth in the governor’s program ‘kyhealthnow’].”

The problem, as I see it, is how do we do that? And who is “we?”

Bensema, in a follow up conversation, says that every stakeholder needs to be involved: physicians, hospital groups, insurers, legislators, and any Kentuckian interested in their health. Insurers need to cover smoking cessation programs and other scientifically supported cancer screenings such as mammography and low-dose CT scanning for lung nodules. Kentucky’s colon cancer screening is a model for success.

“We cannot fall back on the tendency to do what we’ve always done,” says Bensema. “That’s not working.” Now that CMS has moved to payment based on quality of care, Bensema believes “stakeholders need to move intentionally to a system that is not fee-for-service.”

Feel free to comment or disagree.

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Gil Dunn, Publisher, MD-UPDATE

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