Is Obamacare a tax? The argument teaches us to stay healthy by disagreeing

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I discussed this health care approach with Catherine Belling, an assistant professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and author of the book "A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria."

I believe she agreed wholeheartedly with me, though she expressed that agreement by saying my conclusions were utter nonsense.

She did, however, say that our health care system would improve if medical educators focused more on teaching physicians to properly address patients' doubts and uncertainties about diagnoses.

"In the old days, you had the paternalistic doctor who said, 'Everything's going to be fine' or 'You're sick and take this and don't worry about it,'" Belling said. "Now instead of saying, 'You're my doctor and I trust you,' patients will say, 'There's this study that I found on WebMD that says X and you probably haven't read it.' It immediately undermines a physician's already tenuous confidence in what they do and can lead to a lot of unnecessary testing, which gets expensive."

While it can be good for patients to challenge their doctor's opinion — given there are few absolute certainties in medicine — it's possible some of us are taking that license too far.

"We're all encouraged all the time to be looking at ourselves as being potentially sick," Belling said. "There's a lot of pressure on people to make use of resources with the idea that if you get tested now, your disease will be identified and treated early."

But sometimes, she said, it's better for people to recognize this: "You will die eventually, you will get some form of disease eventually and there's nothing you can do about it at this point."

Which gets back to my original assertion that we should follow our political leaders' example and disagree anytime a physician says anything we don't want to hear.

I even came up with an easily digestible, catchy, carefully focus-grouped slogan: "Stop worrying. Save money. Die fast."

"Don't you dare attribute that to me," Belling said.

Don't worry, Dr. Belling. All the credit for that will go to my super PAC.

rhuppke@tribune.com

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