The Role of Personal Responsibility in Health Care

Mother Smoking While Pregnant

A cornerstone to the Federal Affordable Care Act, which is set to open access to affordable health insurance for millions of people, is partially funded by addressing personal responsibility.  Regardless of one’s age, the law requires that everyone have health insurance or face a financial penalty.  While the requirement to maintain health insurance coverage will be legally decided by the Supreme Court, it is the funding from all citizens which will allow this law to be effectively funded.  In a sense, this requirement to carry medical insurance coverage is about personal responsibility to one’s self and to society.  Today I had a staunch reminder of personal responsibility, and all I had to do was look out the window.

While sitting at my desk, which is on the ground level, I watched a car park right in front of my window.  Keep in mind that my window is large and every bit measures four feet high and eight feet wide.  A young woman exited the driver’s side of the vehicle and took her young baby from the backseat and the mother returned to the driver’s seat.  The mother then began to breastfeed, which was odd as she clearly saw me.  Even though her breastfeeding in front of my window was strange, what happened next caused my jaw to drop.

While breastfeeding, the young mother in front of my office window lit up a cigarette.  This woman was smoking, while her child was breastfeeding, right in front of my eyes.  To be perfectly honest, I was so disgusted at what this mother was doing that I left my office.  After nursing her baby, and having a smoke, this young woman finally left about thirty minutes later.

The events that transpired today clearly highlight a problem in our society.  Some individuals have no sense of responsibility to themselves and for those under their care.  As any national health care initiative in the United States matures, at one point or another additional personal responsibility penalties will have to be considered.  Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, increases ones risk of developing emphysema, lung cancer and heart disease.  Insurance, by all definitions, is not a free ride and is designed to insure risk.  Those that choose risk over health should contribute more towards their health insurance premiums so that others are not forced to pay for someone else’s unhealthy lifestyle.