Beyond Healthcare

Maggie Mahar discusses to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America:

First, the report observes that, while medical care is important, “Health is More Than Health Care”:  “Although medical care is essential for relieving suffering and curing illness, only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of preventable mortality has been attributed to medical care [or lack thereof.]  A person’s health and likelihood of becoming sick and dying prematurely are greatly influenced by powerful social factors such as education and income and the quality of neighborhood environments.”

Secondly, the report’s lead authors, the Brookings Institution's  Mark McClellan  and Alice Rivlin, acknowledge that: “Many people live and work in circumstances and places that make healthy living nearly impossible . . .Unquestionably, we must take individual responsibility for our health and the health of our families. At the same time, we must recognize that, in many instances, the barriers to good health exceed an individual‘s abilities, even with great motivation, to overcome these barriers on his or her own. In seeking a healthy society, we must consider the choices available to individuals and the contexts in which choices occurincluding conditions in homes, neighborhoods, schools and workplacesthat can constrain or enable healthier living.”