Health, not healthcare | Fortune

Photo by Charles Haynes via Flickr

Photo by Charles Haynes via Flickr

Americans value health. We pour vast sums of money into health care, we obsess over diet and exercise, we lionize doctors in popular television shows, we celebrate the latest cutting-edge treatments, we even comb through our genes for the secrets to a long, disease-free life.

But does all this actually make us healthier?

The true sources of health are not the drugs we take and the doctors we see, nor how much we eat and how often we go to the gym. Instead, our health is determined by the world in which we live. The safety of our neighborhood, the amount of money we make, the people we interact with, the love and hate we encounter, the justice of our laws, the cleanliness of our air and water, the choices made by political leaders, and sometimes just sheer luck are what really decide whether we get sick or stay well. They are what we should talk about when we talk about health. This column explores these factors.

Last month, the Trump administration took a step that will likely have significant consequences for health in the US. This step did not involve the Affordable Care Act, or the opioid crisis, or the price of pharmaceuticals, or any other area we typically associate with health policy. It involved our air. The administration announced its proposal to roll back Obama-era regulations meant to prevent coal-fired plants from polluting. Under the new plan, states will be able to relax emissions standards, a move expected to help the coal industry while increasing carbon emissions across the country. In a moment of what can only be described as political cognitive dissonance, the Environmental Protection Agency, which touted the proposal, also indicated in its analysis of the plan that the emissions increase could cause up to 1,400 premature deaths each year by 2030.

Read the full article at Fortune