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.

 

A major article appeared in the Washington post on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 entitled, “Trump unveils plan to ‘get tough’ on U.S. drug addiction”. In this article, President Trump outlines his plan on how to deal with and ultimately end the opioid epidemic that is raging throughout our country. The main thrust of his plan is to take a very aggressive and tough approach to stopping the availability of drugs in the first place. By stopping the influx of illegal drugs into our country, plus better monitoring and control of people’s access to legally prescribed opioids, this problem can be solved. Drugs addiction claimed over 64,000 lives last year the majority of whom were between the ages of 15-44, a real tragedy. The sad truth about this, is this is one health problem that should be 100% preventable.

I have recently written a book entitled, Restoring “Health” To Healthcare in which I talk about the fact that when it comes to the healthcare crisis in our country, we are always trying to fix it by focusing on the results of the crisis rather than the cause and that is why we have been unsuccessful for almost sixty years now in trying to get this serious national problem under control. The cause is disease and too much disease especially chronic diseases like: heart disease, stroke, cancer, COPD, and diabetes. Since about 70% of all these diseases are preventable by early detection and making healthier lifestyle choices, the book goes on to offer a simple plan on how to solve our healthcare crisis by getting all of us into our doctor’s offices at least once a year and for us to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices. In addition, I recommend offering significant financial incentives (up to $5000 per year) to do so.

Last year, there were approximately 1,604,671 deaths due to the above named chronic diseases.  Almost 50% of the population in the United States has at least one chronic disease and about 33% have at least two such conditions. Chronic diseases account for over 80% hospital admissions, over 90 % of prescriptions, over 75% of doctor visits and at least 75% of all healthcare costs about $3.5 trillion. It seems so evident to me that if we could prevent 70% of the diseases that afflict us, then we would not have a healthcare crisis for long. So why when it comes to presenting new bills and proposals on how to solve our healthcare crisis, we never deal with this? That is a great question and it is also the reason that almost sixty years later we are still trying to figure out how to get healthcare costs under control.

Just like getting rid of drugs is crucial in getting our drug addiction crisis under control, we have to start getting serious and more forward thinking about getting rid of or at least severely minimizing so many of us contracting diseases especially chronic ones, so we can solve our healthcare crisis once and for all.

 

 

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.

 

According to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, 29% of people polled considered healthcare as their number one concern. The economy at 18% came in second.  I am not surprised since having quality, affordable, healthcare affects all of us. Unfortunately, there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding healthcare starting out in 2018 and this can only add to our level of anxiety about this important issue.

Healthcare premiums are going up again as they usually do.

How will the repeal of the personal mandate associated with the ACA affect health insurance rates going forward?

The CBO predicts because of this, that millions less will have access to affordable health insurance over the next decade.

Will the Chips program that helps insure almost 9 million children, be given the billions of dollars they need to continue being funded by the end of January?

Will the $8 billion be reimbursed to insurers for two years of payments for discounts that the ACA health plans must give to those with lower incomes for their deductibles and out of pocket expenses?

Will $10 billion be given to states to help create high risk pools or otherwise help insurers with especially high medical bills?

Will President Trump’s administration be successful in drafting rules to make it easier for insurers to offer inexpensive, bare bones insurance policies?

How will some of the recent healthcare business mergers and proposed healthcare business mergers (hospitals merging with other hospitals, drug companies buying other drug companies, hospitals buying insurance companies and drug companies buying insurance companies) affect the quality and cost of healthcare?

 Getting the budget bill passed is a priority right now. As it stands now, next on the agenda will be infrastructure and immigration reform. So when will Congress have the time to do something about either repealing and replacing, modifying the ACA or at least stabilizing the existing health insurance markets for the near future?

 Drug prices are predicted to increase again this year.

There has been talk about making changes in Medicaid and Medicare this year as well.

With all these changes and/or possible changes in 2018, there seems to me to be a legitimate concern for many of us to be anxious over the future of our healthcare. All of these have to do with dealing with the costs of healthcare which are important issues. However, none of these deal with the real cause of our healthcare problems.

That is why I wrote Restoring “Health” To Healthcare which I am certain does and offers the only path to ending our healthcare crisis today.

 

1-Overall healthcare costs were $3.5 trillion in 2017 almost one-fifth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

2-Many people lose wages when they are sick and therefore will have less money to spend.

3-Companies will increase the cost of services and goods to offset increasing health insurance rates.

4- With companies having to spend more for their healthcare insurance, they have less money to go towards increasing wages and so this results in stagnant wages.

5-Health insurance companies will raise their insurance premiums and co-pays to offset increasing demands for healthcare services.

6-When people get sick or injured they have to spend more of their dollars on co-pays and out of pocket expenses and less money to save or spend on other needs.

7- When the uninsured get sick that leads to uncompensated care which costs billions of dollars and is ultimately paid for out of taxpayer dollars by either the federal government or the states.

8-When the uninsured get sick, they often wait to seek healthcare until their problem(s) is/are so bad they cannot wait any longer. This often means more complicated problems and increased recovery times both leading to higher healthcare costs than if they were able to seek healthcare intervention sooner.

9-Overwhelming medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcies in the country. This obviously can be very devastating to the person or families involved but it also means that healthcare providers and many other people or businesses/creditors do not get paid as well.

10-Millons of people are one serious illness or injury away from potential financial ruin because of some catastrophic disease and or injury. This leads to a lot of stress and anxiety which over time can be a major cause of serious health problems and more healthcare spending.

Restoring “Health” To Healthcare” presents an uncomplicated plan for ending these problems and our healthcare crisis once and for all.

 

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.

 

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.