Taking responsibility for our health - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Taking responsibility for our health

ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC-DT) -- The National Business Group on Health recently awarded Mayo Clinic as one of the Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles. And that's a big topic Mayo has advocated in its efforts for Health care reform. But how will doctors and patients play a role in healthy living?

While the details in universal health care are still being pieced together, leaders in the health care reform effort say doctors and hospitals need to help patients effectively without repeat visits. And some doctors say patients need to take responsibility for their own health as well.

Last week the Trust for America's Health published the report citing Minnesota as tied for first with the least obese children, but ranked 31st for obese adults. It's an issue doctors have warned patients about for years and the health problems that can stem from obesity.

"Providers ought be expected to focus on the outcomes and not just doing more services for people. So, our job ought be to help keep people healthy, to keep them out of the hospital, to prevent admissions and re-admissions," says Jeff Korsmo, the executive director at Mayo Clinic's Health Policy Center.

But is it the doctor's fault if the patient doesn't heed the advice? One pillar of health care reform that Mayo Clinic touts is value of care. Korsmo says if doctors can treat patients' health and not symptoms in a coordinated fashion, the health industry would be helping itself save money and patients.

"Today we pay for more procedures and hospital re-admissions and all that. We don't pay for people to do the right thing. So, we've got to change that or else it won't get fixed, and then we have to insure everybody so they have access to health care.

Some doctors say patients have to do the work as well. One idea floating in Washington is to have a patient responsibility clause in the healthcare reform bill, maybe even making patients pay more if they don't follow doctor's orders.

"You know not everybody wants to listen to their doctors anyway, but I definitely think it would be more of an incentive," says Samantha Jaworski. "Because if you were trying to help yourself, then the doctor isn't made to do miracles, you know. They've got to work with you as a patient."

"There shouldn't be things that punish people for things they can't control, but if we can control them, it's not unreasonable to look at those options," explains Korsmo.

Korsmo says health care reform will need everyone's help to come about.

Some things he says people can do right now include simple things like using seat belts, not smoking, eating right and keeping a healthy weight. Of course there are many different aspects of healthcare reform. As congressmen and women continue to tackle the issue, we will also explain to you what exactly is happening and what it means.

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