conor mckechnie

Great Missenden, United Kingdom

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conor mckechnie
Posted about 3 years ago
A conversation with GE: Why do we avoid making tough health choices? And, what could motivate us to behave differently?
I think about this a lot - why people find it so difficult to take responsibility for their health - it polarizes my thinking from one extreme to the other and back on a regular basis. On the one hand, I believe in the freedom of the individual to shape their own lives; on the other hand I believe we have a responsibility towards each other and to society as a whole. Case in point (and bearing in mind I live in a country with a single-payor socialized health system (and very good it is too): Last week, my father had a successful heart bypass operation after a series of heart attacks (he thought indigestion) caused by severe coronary artery disease. He never smoked. He is far fitter than the average 68 year-old, cycling upwards of 100 miles/week. He eats a largely fish/vegetarian diet out of preference, has been very active all his life, and drinks in moderation, and he has been very proactive over the last 15 years in managing his health. Yet genetics through him a curve ball and the UK's NHS has just spent ca. USD 20,000 re-doing the plumbing around his heart. Outside the hospital when I visited, stood an army of smokers, many of them far from their ideal BMI, many of them on drips, some in wheelchairs...and I thought "Really? Should the NHS be paying for this? Their irresponsibility is causing an unnecessary drain on health resources, " I ranted at my brother (I was emotional - seeing your dad intubated in the ICU is never nice). At which point he (who is actually rather clever, and also works in health), pointed out: "Where do you draw the line? Do you refuse to treat drivers who crash their cars driving over the speed limit?" causing a crash of moral reasoning. I don't know. So how does the payor (state or insurance company) encourage better health behaviours? I don't think there is one answer - I think there are many, and they are likely different for everyone - what would make you look after your health the way you should?