What Role For Government In Promoting Wellness?
"Of the eight goals for health care reform laid out in President Obama's 2010 budget, just one has more to do with patients than with providers or insurers: 'Investing in prevention and wellness,'" the National Journal reports. "Experts agree that the easiest way to cut down on the cost of care is to make people healthier before they get sick, something the government could encourage by promoting good habits and wellness programs. But proposed taxes on fattening foods and drinks have gotten little traction, and even public health programs like school nutrition or building bike paths aren't getting much play. They bring up the morally dicey issue of whether the government should have a role in people's fitness."
In addition, "basic questions also remain about how effective the government can be in changing the country's health habits; Prohibition stands as a frequently-cited example of the government's failure to alter social norms. But John Shiels, vice president of health care policy firm the Lewin Group, said the government effectively saved lives and altered the culture with motorcycle helmet and seat belt laws" Beverage and fat taxes, however, are unlikely to be in the final congressional bill (Plautz, 8/20).
Related KHN story: Healthy Workers Might Get Bigger Insurance BreaksThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.