@edhed18:Healthcare reform bill will have little impact on health

Even though a so-called health care reform bill has been passed by Congress, I'm sure you won't be surprised to find this will have a minimal impact on true health care. If the federal government was serious about the health of Americans, there would have been provisions in the bill to deal with health, not just health insurance. The roots of our health care issue are a combination of poor behaviors on the part of many Americans, too little preventive screening, defensive medicine practiced by doctors, the third-party payer system, a huge amount of fraud, too many mandates to insurance companies, and a lack of competition in the health care arena.

I won't comment on all those issues, but I will touch on two. Our personal choices and behaviors influence about 80% of our health care issues. Making the right choices on things like diet/nutrition, exercise, sleep, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc. can have a dramatic impact on one's health.

Likewise, the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never been more appropriate than now. Having a physical once a year and checking key health indicators like weight, body mass index, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. several times a year is critical for maintaining good health for a lifetime. Preventive screenings can identify problems early, giving people the chance to correct the issue before it becomes a serious ailment.

Am I guessing at this? Unlike Congress, I have personal experience with this. The company I work for - Mannington Mills, Salem, NJ - is self-insured so every dollar spent comes directly out of the company's bank account. Over the last two years, our health care costs have actually gone down without significant premium increases to our associates. Beyond being the Director of Manufacturing for commercial products, I am also the leader of the site wellness initiative. Over the past three years, we have put together a wellness program that is doing a great job of improving associates' health while at the same time reducing costs.

The program offers free health screens for early detection of high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, etc. By addressing these circumstances early, we avoid more expensive major medical procedures. Mannington has a fitness center on site so associates can exercise as their schedules permit and participate in structured classes. We have also developed programs that incorporate Weight Watchers, nutritional training and behavior modification training (learn new habits). These, in concert with other programs like smoking cessation, sports leagues and available wellness coaches, provide our associates with great resources to get on, and stay on, the path to a healthier lifestyle.

As stated above, Mannington's health care costs have fallen both in 2008 and 2009. We're going for three in a row in 2010. So, controlling costs and improving people's health can be done with the right approach.

Unfortunately, our president and the Democratic-led Congress just wasted a year, further dividing the country and burdening taxpayers with a new source of debt. While they were worried about 10-12 million people who didn't have health insurance, they were ignoring the 27 million who were out of work or working part-time jobs. They have done little but give Mr. Obama a trophy for his mantle.

We can do something about the health of Americans and the related costs, but not with the misguided souls we have leading the country today. If they are serious about solutions, perhaps they should come and talk with some of us who have done it, rather than twist arms, make deals and mislead the American people...and have very little to show for it at the end of the day.

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