Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lessons From the Road

As I mentioned earlier, I have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately. One of the unfortunate side effects is that I have been over-eating. You see, since I am traveling for business they have been paying for all my meals with a healthy per diem allowance.

Since I am not paying for my own meals, I haven't been paying much attention to what I consume. I pay relatively close attention to how much I am spending, but very little to the amount of food. I don't spend much time in Subway or Quiznos, preferring, instead, Tuscan Kitchen and Ramsi's Cafe on the World.

Now when you go to someplace like Ramsi's you can't just order a salad and a water, well at least I can't. Food is one of life's great pleasures and when confronted with a unique menu I simply have to try something that I have never had before. So bring me the Brie Bernadette followed by Smoked Salmon and Kentucky White Cheddar Strudel (BTW, if you ever find yourself within 100 miles of Louisville, go to Ramsi's just to have the Brie Bernadette, it's worth it!) . If I'm feeling particularly decadent I'll even throw in a dessert, especially if it is something I have never had before.

So the long and the short of it is I've put on a couple pounds, but what does this have to do with anything beyond my bragging about eating at some fabulous restaurants on someone else's dime and probably need to take some extra trips to the gym? Well, that is the point. Since I am not paying for what I'm consuming I'm consuming more than I would if I had to pay for my meals out of my own wallet.

When someone else picks up the tab you don't care about how much you consume - to be honest I try to get as close to the per diem as possible to get the full value from my perk. It's an odd incentive and one that I hadn't truly considered until I wrote this post - but there you have it.

Still don't get the point? Why are my culinary habits fundamentally different from health care? Certainly not all medical procedures and doctor visits are necessary, but if someone is picking up the bill why wouldn't you make the trip? In fact, isn't it in your best interest to go as often as possible since something might be wrong with you? Why go through a couple days of a runny nose when you can get full strength decongestants that aren't available over the counter? Isn't it every Americans God Given Right to feel as good as possible at all times?

Unless there is market discipline in the health industry there will be over-consumption and the consequences of that over-consumption will be much more severe than my pants fitting a little too tight.

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