Healthy Population Healthy Nation

Article excerpt

Recreation and health are inescapably intertwined. One of recreation personnel's professed missions is to achieve wellness and a rich quality of life with and for persons of all ages and abilities. Healthful recreation includes positive attitudes of enjoying life; strengths to cope with adversity; ability to meet and deal with challenges; and the maximal use of a person's physical, social and mental ability.

Therapeutic recreation personnel define themselves as providers of a continuum of service from treatment and rehabilitation through leisure counseling and education, to full inclusion into communal recreational activities--to enhance health, growth, development and independence.

As recreators provide their individual professional services, they affect and are affected by social and economic policies of federal, state and local governments. Whether employed directly by government or in private (profit or non-profit) agencies or facilities, it is likely that government has funded, at least in part, the services offered. Therefore, as professionals and as citizens, recreators have a stake in health care policies.

Since the beginning of this decade, health care reform and the momentum for change--based upon providing at least minimal health care for everyone and controlling cost--have gradually taken over a major portion of social and economic policy discussion. Any plan for reduction of the national deficit cannot be formulated without solving the nation's mounting costs for health care.

Several pieces of legislation were introduced, but not enacted, during the 102nd Congress. These bills ranged from those prescribing "hands off" (no or little intervention by the government) all the way to the Universal Health Care Act of 1992 (Russo/Wellstone). President Clinton and the 103rd Congress have been given a mandate by the voters to succeed where their predecessors have not.

What are the Problems?

The statistical data in the table below shows the runaway costs:

On average, the medical costs for a family of three in 1992 were $10,480. Any why is this cost skyrocketing? According to the U.S. Commerce Department these are the primary reasons:

* Use of sophisticated, high-priced equipment.

* Increases in the variety and frequency of treatments.

* Innovative but costly treatment of illnesses such as

heart ailments, AIDS, kidney disease and cancer.

* The increased life span of Americans.

* The labor intensity of the health-care industry and

high earnings for professional, administrative and

technical workers.

The most rapid growth is projected in home health care, nursing home care and managed health-care organizations.

Another vital cause that should have been listed is the number of under-or uninsured persons, estimated at 35 to 40 million. When a working parent earns barely enough to pay the rent and put food on the table, the child's sniffles are often medically ignored until illness (high fever; rasping cough, malaise) results in a visit to an emergency room. The costs of acute treatment (inpatient or at home) added to the cost of time lost from work, are certainly greater than a doctor's visit when the sniffles start, or than regular preventive care.

Where does the US stand in 1991's statistics of industrial nations?

It is obvious that for all the money we spend on health and welfare in this nation, we are not getting our money's worth. That is why containing costs is one major problem; providing uninterrupted access to health care for everyone is a second; simplifying procedures for individuals, employers and health care providers is a third; and eliminating duplication and waste is a fourth.

Who Provides Health Care Now?

The system now is provided through public and private sources; in the community and in institutions and congregate facilities. …