The Affordable Care Act emphasizes both comprehensive coverage of the American population and preventative medical care through early diagnosis and intervention. The thought is that by catching things early the costs of intervention will be lower than they might otherwise be. With nearly everyone insured at one level or another, and with most illness caught at the early stage, the emphasis will be on keeping the population healthy, but the people will need to play their part as well.
We need to improve the choices we are presented with at the start of medical care. We need to cut down on chronic, recurring disease and begin to treat diseases while they are largely still symptomatic or at least not yet advanced to an acute stage at which the treatment choices may be more difficult. While medicine may help us catch things early, cutting down on chronic progressive disease is something our behavior will affect.
The role of the general populace begins with greater attention to basic physiologic fitness. Nutrition, exercise, and attention to proper body weight are of great importance. We need to stop eating in excess, get off the couch, reduce weight, become fit and stay fit. Being overweight or even obese contributes greatly, if not now then eventually, to the frequency of our use of the medical system. If you are in that category, you will eventually use the medical system much more that the average weight person who exercises and stays fit. Use of tobacco products is also a great contributor as are unwise exposure to some drugs or to environmental toxins. If you are in one or more of these categories, you will make use of the medical care system earlier, and more often.
Cutting down on chronic disease and increasing vitality will gradually get people out of nursing homes and lead many to a more healthy existence. Many will live longer and spread out the medical care they receive with only occasional and generally less expensive treatments along the way. Ultimately something that is impossible to replace will give out, but, in general, we will have led happier, less costly and more healthy lives.