Often when someone nears the end of life, they begin to contemplate their lives and recognize that of all the things they’ve accumulated, all the accolades that have been bestowed upon them, nothing is as valuable as life itself: there is nothing that should be protected more than life itself. But if it’s the most valuable thing we possess, whose responsibility is it to protect it? Is it the responsibility of the individual that possesses it? Is it the responsibility of the society in which that individual is a constituent? The answer most likely lies somewhere between those two choices.

Certainly both the individual and society have something to gain by having healthy components. Neither of them benefits by simply expecting the other to take on the whole responsibility. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that an individual should take at least some responsibility for their own health and society should serve as a safety net.

But it seems that our politicians have not yet struck that balance between safety net and individual responsibility. Given the already disastrous budget, we plow full-speed ahead towards the fiscal cliff and a mandatory healthcare plan that will worsen a doctor shortage. The quality of our current healthcare system as we know it will decline, and most hurt of all will be—surprise, surprise—the poor.

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