The abdication of personal responsibility is especially great to the extent that the medical community can attribute health afflictions to such risk factors as being overweight. (According to recent studies, every obese American adds 42 percent to medical costs, relative to those of normal weight.)
Obesity can sometimes be attributed to poor diet, lack of exercise, or other personal behavior. But researchers find it can also be genetic. Individuals with such risk factors or pre-existing conditions may not be able to get private insurance under the pre-Obamacare system – even if they don’t want to be free riders. The private health insurance plans often exclude them. In such a system, personal responsibility is sorely absent.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 was designed to solve this problem, with its “individual mandate” and its prohibition on excluding customers based on pre-existing conditions. Establishing personal responsibility is the reason why conservative think tanks proposed the idea of the individual mandate in the first place, and why Mitt Romney approved it as part of the health-care law enacted in Massachusetts.
All this has been said many times, of course. But new analysis exposes another disconnect between rhetoric and reality when it comes to personal responsibility in health care:
The states opposing Obamacare are the states where people are least likely to take personal responsibility for their health in their daily behavior.
Members of Congress from states with high incidences of obesity, poor eating habits, and poor exercise habits are much more likely to have voted against the health-care reform; those from states that rank high on physical fitness voted for it. The relationship is highly significant statistically.
Similarly, states that show signs of risky sexual behavior – high incidences of pregnancy among girls age 15-17 and the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia – tended to vote against the ACA. The same is true of states with high rates of smoking, drunk driving, and shootings.