Healthcare is not Health
During the last decade, we’ve seen huge amounts of energy expended on how to finance the insurance industry that pays for doctors, pills, treatments, dialysis and hospital visits for patients who get sick or are injured in the USA. These issues are of some importance, but what has not been discussed at length is what the primary goal of a healthcare system is.
If you are like most people, you would think that the primary goal of a healthcare system should be healthy people. Yet in the USA, that is not the case. If it were, then at least one side of the debate should have taken up the cause of actually making people healthy.
The following facts are not controversial:
The USA has the most expensive healthcare system in the world. We spend more than twice as much on a per person basis as Japan or the UK do.
The healthiest country in the world is Italy. They spend about a third of what we do.
Even within the US, the places that spend the most on healthcare do not reliably have better health and on some measures are worse.
The expansion of access to health insurance that started with the passage of the ACA has seen death rates actually rise.
So my question is pretty simple. How on earth are we not talking about this while we are trying to reform the healthcare system in this country?
You know what doesn’t cost a lot? Living a healthy life and not getting diagnosed with diseases. Do you know how much it costs to treat a single case of diabetes*, diagnosed at age 40?
$124,900, much of it out-of-pocket expense!
Do we know how to prevent it?
What do we do to prevent diabetes? Adopt a healthy plant-based diet, high in fiber and low in saturated fat, lose weight, and get regular exercise. In the Diabetes Prevention Program, one of the main studies that showed how to prevent diabetes, all the people who actually achieved four of the five goals of the study did not progress to diabetes.
So these are not mysteries, hidden from people. The people in power just don’t want to do it. Either political party could make diabetes prevention a policy platform, showing people who need to know, how to avoid getting the disease, but no.
We just make more noise about how we need healthy people to buy into the system to subsidize those who get ill.
I get that we need a system. But our costs are out of control. We spend over 600 dollars a person per year just to treat high blood pressure (that’s every man, woman and child in the USA spends an average of 600 dollars). The cost of treating breast cancer is over 16.5 billion dollars a year, but we spend virtually nothing educating people that eating 50 grams of fiber a day cuts the risk of breast cancer in half.
Nobody who is getting rich off the current system, wants to actually reduce the amount of spending. The hospitals, pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies certainly don’t, and they run the system.
So the only reasonable choice is to improve your health with the help of your family and friends. The system can’t do it for you.
Convince yourself, your family and your friends to make the changes you need to make. If you don’t have insurance, it will be the best way to give yourself a great chance at a healthy life. If you do have insurance, it will allow you to expose yourself the least to potentially dangerous drugs and unnecessary treatments.
Our goal at Allen Wellness and Medical Center is to help you get to the point where you have health and don’t need healthcare.
* All references to diabetes in this article pertain to Type 2 diabetes.