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Articles    H2'ed 12/9/09

American Character Strengths Threatened By Private Health Insurer Economic Policies

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American character has been undergoing a dangerous and effective attack
that has, in my opinion, gone virtually un-noticed. The character
values of self-reliance, self responsibility and self control are being
seriously eroded by private for profit and non-profit health insurer policies.

I have worked for 35+ years with biofeedback, a process which teaches people skills which enable them to take greater responsibility for their health.

goal of biofeedback is to teach people to develop greater self reliance
through improved self awareness and self discipline. These are
resources and values cherished by Americans. Usually, instruments are used to measure physiological functions, like muscle tension, blood flow, breathing or brain wave activity. People learn to become more sensitive to subtle changes and then learn how to voluntarily control brainwaves, heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature.

Biofeedback is used to reduce or eliminate the causes and symptoms of headaches, anxiety, stress disorders, high blood pressure, diabetic problems, pain, impaired functioning after stroke or spinal cord injury, ADHD, head injury, and more recently, for many of the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans coming home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.

Biofeedback works to reduce or eliminate the need for medications. Compare that that to many health insurance companies which call for use of medications because that is cheaper that helping people take personal responsibility for their health, with professional training and help. Theoretically, it's cheaper to give someone pills instead of train them to change the way their mind and body react which causes the symptoms. We have, on the one hand, a cheaper approach, on the other hand, an approach that enables patients to build inner strenght, take personal responsibility, independence and self reliance.

I have grave
fears that the health care funded by private insurers is eroding these
American as apple pie values. Managed care insurers don't pay for services which teach
people to take self-responsibility. They insist on the cheapest
approach-- drugs. it's no wonder we have a drug abuse problem. It
starts with prescription drugs.

Now, I am not saying we should
do anything to affect people's access to medications, but I I would
like to see legislation and health care policy that requires that
patients have equal access to alternative approaches which empower the
patient to take self-responsibility. Currently, we allow insurers to
require that doctors use the cheapest drug or passively received
therapies, which aggravate the erosion of responsibility and self

The issue is not just about biofeedback. It involves
any approach which empowers the patient to take responsibility--
exercise, nutrition, self discipline, learning, reasonable caution,
practice, prayer, preparation-- simple responsibilities which, when you
add personal injury and product liability and malpractice litigation--
have been replaced by blaming others.

When we look at the policies of the "socialized" medicine groups in the
nation-- Veterans health care and medicare-- those two groups tend to
support coverage for interventions that utilize self-responsibility.
This is particularly true for the VA health program. They have longer
term interests at heart. They can't dump expensive or high risk
patients. They have to keep them healthy for the long term and that
means instilling healthy habits and skills. That's just not the way the
for-profit and faux non-profit health insurers work.

This is
an insidious problem which is seriously hurting our culture and
values. We need to protect those values with legislation requiring
insurers to support self-responsibility approaches to health care. I am
very confident that this is one piece of legislation that could get
strong bi-partisan support. Polling by Zogby, which I commissioned,
showed that this is an issue that voters support. This is a bill that
it will be un-american to oppose. The legislators who iniated it and
co-sign it will earn the respect and appreciation of the country.

impossible to legislate character, but it is possible and right to
legislate to protect against business practices which erode character.
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One theme has run through my work for the past 40 plus years-- a desire to play a role in waking people up, raising their consciousness and empowering them. I was the organizer founder of the Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology and StoryCon Meetings and president of Futurehealth, Inc., with interests in (more...)

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