A few days ago, while brushing my teeth, it struck me that it was within my power to control, if not reduce, the dental costs for my parents.

I could do that if I continue to eat healthy food, clean my teeth as often as necessary and visit my dentist regularly.

Considering that it is much, much cheaper to go for regular check-ups than to repair or replace bad teeth or treat a gum problem, it makes sense for us not to neglect our oral hygiene. But if we do so, we have only ourselves to blame for that big hole in our pocket when the bill comes.

Using the same logic, we can arrest the rising medical costs if we take responsibility for our health. If we do not take care of our body, we must be prepared to pay the price.

It may not be easy to maintain a healthy body, but it is simple: Adopt a healthy lifestyle, go for regular medical checkups and take our medication when we are not well.

The other option is to face the prohibitive medical cost. Then we are free to abuse our body and indulge in unwholesome food.

Never mind the lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure or hypertension, we can take care of them when it gets worse. If that is our choice, we should not complain about rising medical costs – we should accept the consequences with equanimity.

Many people do not realise or admit that they are responsible for themselves. They cannot change the rates of medical fees, but they can change themselves.

I am aware that there is no guarantee that you will not be sick if you do all the right things for your health.

You can’t do much to prevent inherited diseases like cancer and diabetes from striking you. But regular checkups can mean that when it does, it can be detected earlier, and by taking one’s medication consistently, one can treat it.

In short, it will cost less if you take control and more if you let it fester.

Notwithstanding this, I am sure there would be fewer sick people if everyone took responsibility for their own well-being. With fewer people requiring medical care, might the Government be able to afford to give more subsidies?

Might insurance premiums be lower? In other words, everyone can contribute to the lowering of medical costs.

I would like to suggest that the Government come up with a system to give more help to patients who take care of their own health.

For example, points can be given to those who go for regular checkups, attend health talks and adopt a healthy lifestyle. These points can be converted into discounts when they see a doctor.

More help should be given to those who deserve it because their medical problems are not of their own doing.

For those who choose to abuse their body, however, the Government should increase the medical fees, to hopefully serve as a deterrent to other like-minded people.

(This journal entry can be found in TODAY of 11 July 2006)