Who is most exposed to risk among the rich and poor? Does a country that spends the most per head on health care have the best health care system or the biggest health care budget? And so on. The goal of the survey is to help people assess their own risk.
And that’s where the real challenge arises: What risk should be included in these rankings? How many factors should be considered in each place, and from what? Should we factor in things like wealth, health, happiness, wealth, age, income, and so on, while at the same time considering factors like poverty? Do we include income-based mortality, even though a high income and high consumption level may seem a lot like income itself? It’s difficult. People have different ways of assessing their own risks. (Here’s a detailed breakdown, on a different issue for the past couple centuries.) Some say that we should look at whether you feel satisfied with your health, and if not, are you at a heightened risk? How about the impact that wealth has on your quality of life? What about mental illness, or addiction? How about the impact that having children has on the quality of life? How about your age from when you were born to your current age? Are we using a set of assumptions that would increase your own risk if you do the survey again? That’s a lot of work.
My colleague, Paul Ryan, wants to solve some of these problems. At the very least, he wants to increase understanding between people. He wants to see the world more clearly and more accurately described by numbers and statistics. In short, he wants a more informed electorate.
So his proposal is as follows. If you’re concerned about health or wellness, maybe you want to join the government to study the issues you are concerned regarding. You can find out more by calling the Obama administration’s toll-free Health Improvement Program at 1-800-424-HIT.
You can tell the president that you’d like to join the program, and see how he or she would take you through the process and help you learn more about how to get the information you need. Of course, the administration would have to hear that you are concerned about health or health-related topics.
Of course, there are questions to be answered. You have to explain to the administration what you’re asking them to do, not to answer the questions. But the administration might be interested in seeing what a program like this can do for people.
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