Most of us need to realize 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, pharmaceutical or health insurance companies.
We have to the power to get off the couch and on the treadmill, go for a walk outside, do a yoga class or strength training, go dancing or swimming. We have the power to stop playing video games and watching television late into the night and decide to get a good night’s sleep. We have the power to eat a salad instead of a grease and salt laden coronary on a bun. I am not saying we do not need our healthcare providers. On the contrary, they should always play a vital role in the management of our health but each of us needs to become primarily responsible for our own health. We need to make prevention of illness and disease a priority in our lives and our healthcare providers need to support us in this endeavor and of course be there for us if and when we get ill or injured.
Every year, more Americans are getting sicker at younger ages and the rates of chronic diseases/conditions like: heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity amongst others are growing. Almost one-fifth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on healthcare related costs. Our current system is already unsustainable and this growing burden means costs will continue increasing. Putting more money into the system without making some fundamental changes to it won’t help.
In order to address the root cause of the problem (which is too much disease), we need to fundamentally change the nation’s approach to healthcare. We need to get away from being a reactive “sick care” system to being a proactive “preventative care” system. The best solution involves the following components:
1-each of us taking personal responsibility for our own health
2-making healthier lifestyle choices in the way we choose to live
3-providing quality, affordable healthcare to everyone
4-rewarding individuals with significant financial incentives (up to $5000 per person) for improving their health and/or living healthy lifestyles.
Remember the start of this famous song by the Mamas and the Papas. “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey”. There was a big push in California last year for a healthcare system for everyone and have it be single pay.
The reasons behind this, was to have insurance for all and cut down on the rising cost of healthcare in the state. It seemed to be gaining traction until the people found out to fund it would require a tax increase. So for now it did not turn out that way.
Here is the beginning of the song entitled “Potato”, by Cheryl Wheeler. “They’re red, they’re white, they’re brown-They get that way underground”. In Idaho the state that grows those special potatoes, a new health insurance plan that does not stick to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) regulations can be found.
The purpose here is also to try and decrease healthcare costs. This would mean cheaper plans for those who are in good health and the fear is that this would mean less people signing up for the ACA. In addition, this could lead to a legal showdown with the federal government since it is technically against the law. There are other states standing by to see which way this will go.
What I find particularly interesting is that on the one hand, you have a very progressive state calling for a single payer health insurance plan which could end or replace the ACA. On the other hand, you have a conservative state that is offering health insurance plans that could further destabilize the ACA’s exchanges in that state and ultimately could lead to its demise. Though the two states see the solution to their rising health insurance problems and healthcare costs in totally opposing ways, one thing they seem to have in common is a problem with the ACA.
“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey”. I mean no disrespect to either state but neither plan will turn out OK. The plan in my book, Restoring-“Health” To Healthcare can show them the way.
As a nation since 1960, we have had serious problems with the rising costs of healthcare. In 2009, there was a debate that was raging throughout our country concerning how to reform our healthcare system, how to get more people insured, stop rising healthcare costs and resolve the healthcare crisis that affected us all. This resulted in the passage of the ACA. Now it is almost ten years later and having access to affordable, quality healthcare still causes a lot of anxiety and concern for most of us. In addition, healthcare costs are still going up (7% higher than wages) over the past six years.
In the past few months, the news has been filled with a variety of reports concerning different entities related to the healthcare industry making changes or proposing laws to try to curb healthcare costs. Here is a list of just some of them.
CVS, the large pharmacy company is going to buy Aetna Health Insurance Company.
United healthcare group is going to buy about three hundred healthcare clinics from DaVita Medical Group.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Group and J.P. Morgan are going to form an independent company to try and rein in healthcare costs for their employees.
Speaker Ryan spoke of getting back to dealing with entitlement reform in 2018 which probably means looking at changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
The State of Idaho is making healthcare law changes that would have cheaper insurance premiums for healthy people but those who are unhealthy may have to pay more.
Health and Human Services recently has proposed changes in the healthcare law that will allow individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance that will have lower premiums but fewer benefits. These happen to be benefits that many people do not want or need that are currently required by the Affordable Care Act such as prescription drugs, maternity care and/or access to mental healthcare coverage.
It is too early to know if any of these will actually work or if they come to fruition in the first place. In addition, while I applaud efforts to try to do something about the cost of healthcare in our country, all of these plans, recommendations and/or proposals are not dealing with the real cause of our healthcare crisis. Indeed, the real crisis we have here is the adherence to a belief system that accepts the absurdity that continuing to fund “sick care” is the solution. Add that to the fact that almost all of the $3.5 plus trillion that went towards healthcare costs in the USA last year was spent on illness.
We need a fundamentally different approach, one that deals with the actual cause of this problem which is too much disease. I know how to do this and that is why I wrote – Restoring “Health” To Healthcare.
I believe most people assume that adopting a healthy lifestyle would be too costly. I have learned that whether that is your case or not, it is too costly (on many levels) NOT to. As a matter of fact, from a dollars and cents standpoint, it is often cheaper to live a healthy lifestyle than it is to live an unhealthy one. Here are some of the facts about the economic impact of unhealthy living habits.
Unpaid medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the country today.
About 70% of deaths in the USA each year are due to chronic diseases. Three of the most common ones are cardiovascular disease (which includes diseases of the heart, hypertension, stroke and peripheral vascular disease), cancer and diabetes. These diseases plus obesity, arthritis, lung and Alzheimer’s disease can undermine health, shorten life expectancy and cause enormous suffering, disability and economic costs.
In June 2004, a joint statement was issued by the American Cancer Society, The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. Here is a quote from that statement. “Despite the incontrovertible evidence supporting the medical and economic benefits of prevention and early detection, current disease control efforts are underfunded and fragmented. While healthcare costs skyrocket, the national investment in prevention was estimated at less than 3 % of total annual healthcare expenditures”. I have put this statement in here because this was made about fourteen years ago and not much has changed in the amount of dollars spent on prevention while the incidence of these chronic diseases continues to rise at alarming rates. Chronic diseases account for at least 75% of healthcare costs which were about $3.5 trillion last year.
It is estimated that about 70% of these diseases/conditions can be prevented by early detection and modifying some of our lifestyle choices. Think of the money we could save as a nation (hundreds of billions of dollars), if a concerted effort were placed on prevention. The financial impact of the costs associated with being unhealthy can also affect you on a more personal level. They can lead to higher premiums, co-pays and more out-of-pocket expenses for treatments, tests, procedures, prescription and nonprescription medications. You may even see a reduction or loss in wages due to uncovered sick days.
There are also emotional costs to illnesses; stress and anxiety levels can increase due to concerns over ill family members and/or fear of job loss or the cancellation of insurance coverage. If we could reduce the incidence of illness, then these costs would be dramatically reduced as well.
When you make something a priority, you will do whatever it takes to attain it. Each of us should make, being as healthy as we can be a priority in our lives. How much would you value the following?
Reducing the risk of suffering from any serious and potentially debilitating disease, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and others
Reducing the chances of developing arthritis, osteoporosis and other chronic musculoskeletal problems
Reducing the chances of suffering from colds, sore throats, and the flu
Decreasing the likelihood of becoming overweight or obese
Having more energy all day
Living a longer, more vital quality of life
Not having to miss recreational and family activities due to illness or physical problems
Missing fewer work days and lost wages as a consequence of illness
Reducing healthcare visits and saving dollars spent on co-pays and out of pocket expenses
Avoiding some painful tests, procedures and surgeries which often have healthy risks of their own
Reducing the need for prescription and nonprescription medications with their potential side effects, adverse reactions and costs
Reducing your need for hospitalizations
Having greater peace of mind and less stress (at least regarding your health)
Your body is constantly changing and repairing itself. It actually generates and replaces ten million cells every second (white blood cells are replaced every ten days, muscles every three months and the entire liver every seven years). Therefore, if you start giving the cells of the body what they really need for optimal functioning, you should be able to improve your health and well-being. The healthier you are, the more likely your body is able to function at optimal efficiency to begin with. In addition, the better your chances should be to overcome diseases and/or recover form a traumatic injury, a surgical procedure or some other radical treatment.
Health Is Normal
The good news is that it is normal for the human body to be healthy. The human body if taken care of properly; would most likely not get sick or breakdown that often, function as efficiently as it could and would have more energy. Though at some point it will wear out, it could last and feel better longer with some TLC.
Breathed clean, non-polluted air as much as possible
Ate three well-balanced meals and a healthy snack or two per day
Drank sufficient quantities of clean, healthy water
Had a sufficient amount of quality sleep most nights
Did not smoke cigarettes
Did not abuse alcohol or illegal drugs
Practiced good personal hygiene
Tried to get outside in the sun a few minutes, most days of the year
Stayed socially involved and mentally active
How sick do you think we would be?
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, with all the issues facing our nation today both foreign and domestic, the one that concerns us the most is still healthcare. What is going to happen now that the personal mandate has been repealed? What will happen if the government decides not to reimburse the insurance companies $ 8 billion dollars related to the ACA health plans? What will happen if the government does not give states $10 billion to create high-risk pools or otherwise help insurers with especially high medical bills? With all that is going on in Congress now, when will they have time to deal with the healthcare issues that concern so many of us? When will they do something to help lower our premiums, co-pays and deductibles?
While these are all legitimate concerns, none of these problems can be “fixed” unless we define what the cause of them are and therein lies the essence of our healthcare crisis. Indeed, the real crisis we face is the adherence to a belief system that accepts the absurdity of continuing to fund our “reactive” approach to disease. It is just not working. To me, “wellness” is the key to transforming our failed healthcare system. Even though Americans spend significantly more on healthcare per person than any other industrialized nation in the world, we are the sickest. Even though our healthcare professionals are the best trained and best equipped in the world we are very unhealthy. Even though the United States is where everyone wants to be for life-threatening medical emergencies or surgical interventions or long-term care, the state of our individual health and our health as a nation continues to deteriorate. Two years ago as a nation our healthcare costs was approximately $3.207 trillion and this past year it was about $3.5 trillion. Where and when will it end? Sadly, our lack of information and understanding of what the body really needs to function efficiently and optimally lies at the very core of this crisis.
Unless we fundamentally change the way we define health -not healthcare- but health itself…unless we each make health a priority in our lives, unless we each take primary responsibility for our own health.…unless the government changes the way it approaches this healthcare crisis…. unless the government (with the assistance of the health insurance industry and our healthcare providers) provides us with the education, support and financial incentives to start making healthier lifestyle choices, we will never be able to get this serious problem under control.
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.