Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympics, Health Care, and UltraRunning

Ran across an interesting post at the Shakesville blog.  It has an Olympics focus, yet it pertains to us UltraRunners as well, who often abuse our bodies in pursuit of Ultra excellence.

And here's something interesting I've noticed: The NBC commentators talk incessantly about the various injuries that been sustained by the athletes. I've heard about countless sprains, ligaments, broken bones. I've heard about a ruptured Achilles tendon. I've heard about a speed skater who sliced into his own leg with his skate, and a figure skater who sliced into his partner's face with his skate. I've heard about the elaborate medical procedures that were done to repair these injuries, and the extensive physical therapy that some of the athletes have done to get back to their sport.


And not once has anyone commented that these athletes are a drain on the healthcare system.


No one has complained about the "unhealthy lifestyle" Olympians engage in, and how all their totally preventable (if only they'd give up their hopes, dreams, passions, and jobs!) injuries are contributing to rising healthcare costs.

Just throwing this out as food for thought.  First, my opinion is that people who are physically active, such as we UltraRunners, probably use less health care--cumulatively--than the sedentary, but I'd also like to see some hard evidence, pro or con.  Point B: I'd be very troubled by some sort of heath care police who would rule upon whether some injury or disease was self-induced.  That is a slippery slope towards which we go at our peril.  Health care police results in health care we really want that?

For example, a few years ago there was a great outcry about so-called "crack babies" to the extent that some jurisdictions passed laws addressing expectant mothers' conduct vis-a-vis drug usage.  Now, nobody wants crack babies to be born.  But the laws ran afoul of Murphy's cousin: the Law of Unintended Consequences.  Some, perhaps many, pregnant women began to shun pre-natal care lest they be snared by such anti-drug laws.  And in the long run, many more babies were harmed than otherwise would have been the case.

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