Donate your Diet to Science

Our health care chaos will never be resolved until we address the causal link between junk food consumed and health outcomes. To suggest a solution, let’s donate our dietary habits to science, so fellow citizens can learn from our good choices, or our mistakes.  Merchandisers already track our purchases with the swipe of a grocery card, so why not let researchers compare, anonymously, our food choices to our medical data to see what long-lived people tend to eat, and what leads to diabetes or heart disease.  Through the power of statistics, using data optionally donated, we could finally find out what foods are actually good for us – and what we should avoid.

Let’s take it a step further and use purchase data and health data to figure out dollar amounts for what sugar, salt, white flour, and fat contribute to dental and health care costs, and then put that cost into the price of each product – an amount commensurate with the quantity of unhealthy ingredients in the product.  Grocers would automatically direct this “responsibility tax” toward a “polluter-payer” healthcare system that would link consumer and producer choices to healthcare funding.  Without this component, the health of our citizenry will deteriorate and any system will be too expensive. With this proposal as part of any reform, better products and consumer choices would be made; we would live longer, healthier lives; healthcare costs would go down; and we could take a giant step toward funding healthcare for all.

I’m not a healthcare expert, but I have a number of suggestions. First, the paperwork of insurance companies and government programs is toxic. Fighting insurance companies or being considered a cheat by L&I industrial insurance itself causes stress-related health problems and wastes everyone’s time.

I suggest that industrial insurance, junk food taxes, and pollution taxes fund the uninsured as a “public option.” This would let you choose a doctor who would bill this single-payer fund at a rate that 80% of doctors consider adequate. 20% of doctors might have a co-pay if they’re in demand. People could choose to pay a little more to stay with their chosen doctor.

Many providers “milk” Medicare and waste patients’ time with unnecessary visits and tests, therefore, there should be incentives that reward providers for delivering better outcomes for less money. Share 5, 10, or 20% of the reductions in health care costs with the providers.

Government should incrementally buy out insurance interests, transitioning premiums to the public option, and then retrain insurance employees, potentially as healthcare professionals. As more people choose this “polluter-funded, single-payer” public option, insurance premiums won’t go down a rat hole, and more money will be available to cover higher food prices, which are easily avoided for those wishing to do so.