America’s health crisis is about more than mental and physical conditions, and it costs even more than you think.
It will require the seemingly impossible task of working together to make the United States healthy.
We spoke with Ted Smith, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and The Director, Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil at the University of Louisville.
Today interconnected forces, like poor food quality, insufficient transportation, limited access to healthcare, weak public education, and other social factors have created entire communities characterized by poor physical and mental health, violent crime, incarceration, unemployment and drug and alcohol abuse.
The more unhealthy people and communities there are in the United States, the more we all pay. Whether it is violence in our cities or insurrections at our nation’s Capitol or higher healthcare costs, or homelessness, or incarceration rates. Americans pay in money, safety, and freedom as more places become undesirable places to live and visit.
The idea of helping people establish a baseline of health to restore these communities is stuck in a debate over whether and how to fund the array of supports people need to live healthy lives.
Some say that’s socialism and people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Others say, these people and communities don’t have boot straps. They say that capitalism no longer exists because competition has been allowed to die at the hands of monopolies.
Further, any notion of sharing wealth seems to be gone, as we seem to feel threatened that someone is going to take we we have or deserve.
The solution is not as simple as solving for one issue. They are all integrated. We can look to history, work together, and change how we live to build healthier communities, and therefore, a healthier nation.
Working together can be done. Americans rallied together to defeat Nazi Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II.
Capitalism and socialism have always co-existed in the United States. After World War II, The Federal Government helped people buy houses and pay for their education. It started Social Security in 1935, and started Medicare in 1965.
Like a world war, improving the health of all these unhealthy communities requires sacrifice and sharing. Are we up to the task?