Monday, June 22, 2009

An open letter to President Obama from LoneStart Wellness

Dear President Obama:

You’ve made health care reform a priority, and rightly so. It’s been said, “the devil is in the details,” and maybe that’s why some important details seem to be missing in the ongoing national discussion on health care reform.

It’s true that our health care system is collapsing under its own weight. And, it’s true our nation needs health care reform. It’s also true that an ounce of prevention can be worth (in this case) many pounds of cure.

We’re not talking only about health care and health care reform. Americans don’t want to just talk about reforming health care. They want to know that whatever solution emerges will improve their access to affordable, high-quality health care and that it will be sustainable. That means we must shine a bright light on all aspects of our current health care delivery system. We must look for every opportunity to eliminate waste, redundancy and practices that exist more for the enrichment of the provider than the health care of the consumer. We’re dealing with an issue that is complex, has deeply entrenched private and public interests and threatens some of our fundamental assumptions about rights, privileges, profits and entitlements. While we do not yet know what shape comprehensive health care reform will take or what it will cost, we do expect that we will all bear some of that burden. That makes it “our” issue and our responsibility as well as our burden.

Let’s turn some of that burden into an opportunity to engage our citizens to become more proactive in their own vital wellness behaviors. For the past three years, we’ve proven that those most at risk for preventable chronic illness can and will change even satisfying and deeply-entrenched behaviors so long as they can believe that they have a reasonable expectation of success.

Almost one-half of all Americans report having a chronic illness, and about 80 percent of all chronic disease is caused by three preventable health behaviors—poor nutrition and overeating, physical inactivity, and smoking. Obesity is a major contributor to and accelerator of chronic disease, which accounts for 75 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the United States each year.

We’ve seen those who at one time have been viewed as part of our health care problem, become part of the solution as a result of their success through LoneStart’s individual and workplace wellness programs. This is how what we call Viral Wellness™ spreads, from person to person, organization to organization, and then to families and social networks. It’s how we can turn wellness itself into a pandemic, and it’s how we can proactively reduce health care costs and utilization. Over time we have the ability to create a true Culture of Wellness in our families, our organizations, our communities and our country.

LoneStart Wellness asks you to expand the conversation and let all of us have a chance to address those “pesky details.” As the debate continues it’s time to bring each individual’s responsibility for our collective wellness into focus—devilish details and all.

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