Life Expectancy Rate in USA Declined Again In 2017
For the second year in a row, the life expectancy rate in the United States has declined. Though deaths from opioid addiction have played a major role in this unfortunate national statistic, chronic diseases such as heart, stroke, diabetes and cancer still are the number causes of death in our country. While opioid addiction is 100% preventable, we also know that about 70% of serious, chronic diseases such as those mentioned above and others as well are preventable by early detection and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Give the Body What It Needs
I think many of us think that good health is something you are blessed with. I know years ago I used to think that way. However, I now know that for most of us good health is a choice and that good health (for the most part), has to do with how each of us chooses to live. It really comes down to this, if you give the body what it needs to function as it efficiently as it can, it will be better able to defend itself from illness and disease. In the event that the body does become diseased or is injured, it will be in a better position to expedite the healing process and restore itself to normal functioning.
Start the New Year Choosing Healthy Living
I believe that a major reason why so many of us are getting sick at younger ages with serious, chronic diseases such as those mentioned above, is that many people do not realize how much control they have over their own health. The beginning of a new year is a time when many people make “New Year’s Resolutions” to do things that can improve their lives. So why not resolve to learn as much as you can about how to be as healthy as you can be. There are many resources available such as: books, videos, DVDS and websites like ChooseMyPlate.gov. You should also see your primary healthcare provider at least once a year and consult with him or her about what lifestyle choices or changes they recommend you do to improve your health and wellbeing.
I wish for everyone to have wonderful, happy and healthy New Year. I also implore you to choose good health in 2018.
Even though we spend more money per person on healthcare than any other industrialized nation in the world… even though our healthcare professionals are the best trained and best equipped in the world… even though the United States is where everyone wants to be for a life-threatening medical emergency or surgical intervention or long-term care… why are we the unhealthiest of all these countries?
We know that more and more people are getting sicker and sicker at younger and younger ages with chronic diseases such as: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer which accounts for at least 75% of all healthcare spending. That means more and more people needing more medical visits, tests, procedures, nonprescription and prescription medications and in many cases for the rest of their lives. How is this going to affect healthcare costs?
With more and more people getting sicker and sicker and everyone wanting and deserving access to the best medical technology and care they can get and expecting insurance companies to pay for all if not most of it, how can insurance rates not keep going up?
Healthcare costs have been rising every year for almost sixty years now. We continue to think we can solve this serious problem by putting more and more money into the system or by cutting reimbursements to healthcare professionals and facilities and/or cutting services. Why do we keep doing the same things which seem to always give us the same results?
We need to start to deal with the real cause of the problem and that is too many of us are getting sick often with serious, chronic diseases. Unless we do that, we will always be burdened with escalating healthcare costs.
Restoring “Health” To Healthcare offers the only path to ending this seemingly never ending problem.
1-Repealing the unpopular mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance or else pay a financial penalty (which millions chose to do) is still part of the new tax bill being worked on in committee now. The CBO originally projected that this would save about $330 plus billion over a decade (a good thing). However, the CBO also predicted that this could result in thirteen million fewer people having health insurance a decade from now. In addition, it could cause insurance premiums to go up by as much as 10% (not good things).
2-The out of pocket expenses for healthcare went up 3.9% this past year, the highest since 2007. Though healthcare spending overall did increase, it did increase at a lesser rate than in the past. It is close to one-fifth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) at 17.9%.
3-The amount of people signing up for the ACA exchanges got off to a good start but has slowed down quite a lot this past week and unless there is a dramatic change in this coming week, there will be millions less insured through the exchanges this year, which could cause monthly premiums to increase also.
4-Speaker Ryan spoke of getting back to dealing with entitlement reform in 2018 which would probably mean looking into changes to Medicare and Medicaid as far as healthcare spending is concerned. He wants to have more choices and competition in healthcare to help bring down healthcare spending.
5-CVS, the large pharmacy company is going to buy the Aetna health insurance company. UnitedHealth Group is going to buy about three hundred healthcare clinics from DaVita Medical Group. These are companies in the healthcare field that are trying to find new ways to cut down on rising healthcare costs.
It remains to be seen what affect all of these different stories will have on healthcare in the near and far future. However, they all deal with the problems we have as a nation with increasing healthcare costs and trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare for all. While these are serious concerns, they are the results of the problem and not the cause. Until we identify the actual cause and doing something to fix it, we will never get healthcare costs and spending under control.
In Restoring “Health” To Healthcare-The Only Path To Ending Our Healthcare Crisis, I identify this cause and put forth a simple, uncomplicated plan to do just that.
One thing we know for sure with or without the inclusion of mandated health insurance in the new tax bill, our insurance premiums are going to go up just as they do every year, and that is bad news for all of us.
I believe that the Congress should revisit the need to do something about the state of healthcare in our country sometime during 2018.
In this regard, the first half of my book; Restoring “Health” To Healthcare -The Only Path To Ending Our Healthcare Crisis, deals with what the government needs to do with the help of the insurance companies and our healthcare professionals to lead us out of this crisis.
In the meantime, we need to start doing somethings about this problem ourselves as I have put forth in the second half of my book.
If each of us started to make a concerted effort to make healthier lifestyle choices in how we choose to live, many of us would become healthier, would not get sick as often and would not have to seek medical care, treatments or need medications as often.
This would lead to many of us having less co-pays and less and out of pocket expenses for healthcare. The bottom line is we will not only be healthier but a little wealthier as well.
Our Insurance companies would not have to pay out as many dollars for healthcare costs and ultimately premiums and co-pays can be decreased.
As President Kennedy said in his inaugural address in 1961; “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
I believe most of us would love to see tax breaks by the passage of a new tax bill that the Republicans are trying to get through Congress. When the Republicans introduced the concept of repealing the individual mandate that forces people to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty as part of the tax bill, many people who are in favor of the bill were concerned that this idea would make the tax bill more difficult to pass. Whether or not that will be the case; remains to be seen in the very near future.
According to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), if the mandate did become part of the bill and the bill passed it would save about $330 billion dollars over the next decade but there may be thirteen million less people insured. Therefore, in order to save billions of dollars, millions of people who are currently insured may no longer be able to have health insurance. In Restoring “Health” To Healthcare-The Only Path To Ending Our Healthcare Crisis, I put forth a plan that would not only save us billions of dollars starting year one to help reduce our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) spending on healthcare for the first time in years but would also lead to decreased health insurance costs (lower premiums and co-pays). This can all be accomplished without anyone having to give up their health insurance if they do not want to. It would be a win – win situation for everyone concerned.
The only way the healthcare problems facing our nation today can be resolved is to significantly reduce the number of people contracting diseases and conditions, especially chronic ones (such as: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure) In order to accomplish this, we have to change the basic foundation upon which our healthcare system functions. This means we need to change from one which focuses almost all of its resources and energy on combating illness (“sick care”) to one which places much more emphasis on prevention of diseases in the first place (“preventative care”).
This starts with the government providing significant financial incentives (up to $5000 per year) and the insurance companies rewarding healthy living as well. The government needs to also spearhead a major education program about the importance of early detection and making healthy life style choices in how we choose to live. In addition, the health insurance companies and our healthcare providers need to support and guide us in this endeavor.
Each of us needs to make living healthy a priority in our lives and accept the fact that WE are ultimately responsible for our own health, that the first person we should hold accountable for our health is ourselves, not our doctors, hospitals or health insurance companies. If enough people started to do this, the number of us contracting diseases would be dramatically reduced, the demand for healthcare services would be reduced, the amount of co-pays and out of pocket expenses would be reduced and the amount of dollars the insurance companies would have to pay out would be reduced. All this would result in a significant reduction in our nation’s healthcare costs which is huge (about $3.5 trillion dollars in 2017) and ultimately the end of the healthcare crisis once and for all.
MYLES J. SCHNEIDER, DPM
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