While the Affordable Care Act will help some lower-income folks get health insurance, it won't do anything to make people any healthier.

If our government wanted a health care plan that would help people be healthier, it would devise a single-payer system funded by taxes levied on unhealthy food. In this way, people who choose to harm their health by eating at fast-food joints, overloading on fat and calories and making other unhealthy food choices would pay the lion's share of health costs. Those who choose healthier lifestyles would pay less, and everyone would be covered.

Our government could further improve our country's health by moving subsidies from unhealthy foods to healthy foods. Right now, by subsidizing things like sugar, meat, dairy and corn, Twinkies are cheaper than carrots, and fast-food burgers are cheaper that good-quality plant-based burgers. But, if the government used subsidies to make healthy foods cheaper and unhealthy foods more expensive, people would eat healthier and be healthier, and health care costs would go down.

Sounds pretty simple, but there's one big catch: Big agribusiness, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are major funders of our representatives' campaigns. The last thing they want is the government turning their money-making machine upside-down. Disease maintenance, euphemistically called health care, is big business.

Our real health problems lie with our representatives who need vast sums of campaign money to convince us to vote for them. In order to keep getting that money, they can't make any real changes. If we want a government that acts in the best interest of the people rather than big business, we need major campaign finance reform.

Until then, healthy food will be expensive, and unhealthy food cheap. We'll plod along, continuing to harm our health as our disease-maintenance costs rise, while big business laughs all the way to the bank and the same ineffective representatives keep getting elected.


Washington Township


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