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.

 

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.

 

 

I am a big fan of the reality television show “Shark Tank” on ABC. The stars of the show are very successful and wealthy entrepreneurs one of whom is Mr. Kevin O’Leary who is known on the show as “Mr. Wonderful”.  When he feels things are out of control or they don’t make any sense to him he will often say “Stop the madness”.  Looking over recent events concerning healthcare laws from a national and state level, I say to myself, “Stop the madness”.

Before I go on explaining myself here, I must offer the following disclaimers. My intention is not to throw any one or several groups of people under the bus be those both young and old who have serious, chronic diseases or those who are under thirty years of age and tend to be in good health nor those who are poor and do not have access to and/or cannot afford health insurance. I empathize with these people and I believe all of us should have access to affordable, quality healthcare.

 In the recent news cycles we have seen the following laws or bills proposed that would seem to undermine the Affordable Care Act (the ACA).

1-The Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act presented last week by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), which would offer less expensive, short – term health insurance plans without some of the ACA’s required mandates.

2-A few weeks ago, the department of Health and Human Services was modifying federal rules to allow individuals and businesses to purchase cheaper insurance plans with less benefits that were required under the ACA and would extend these plans from three months to a year’s duration.

3-Last month the state of Idaho announced it was allowing Blue Cross of Idaho to offer cheaper health insurance policies that do not include certain benefits that are required by the ACA.

Now this week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have proposed a bill that would be included in the long-term spending package that Congress will vote on next week. This bill would designate $10 billion per year for the next three years to go to reimburse insurers who have funded people who have been very sick with high healthcare expenses and the poor who needed assistance to cover their co-pays and deductibles. This bill would tend to support the ACA and have the opposite effect on it, than the other three above would.

 To me all of these just shift the healthcare costs from one group of people to another. It is like getting Peter to pay Paul. What bothers me most is that neither one deals with the actual cause of our healthcare woes to begin with, which is primarily due to an uncontrolled increase in healthcare costs every year since 1960.

 To me the real crisis we face is the adherence to the belief system that accepts the absurdity the continuing to fund illness (“sick care”) is the solution to a healthy society. We know that a good seventy percent of all the diseases that many of us are afflicted with are AVOIDABLE by early detection and making some adjustments in the way we choose to live. Yet we never do anything on a national level to address this issue when it comes to making changes, modifications or regulations to existing healthcare laws or policy.

It is time to focus on the real cause of the problem. It is time to make a paradigm shift in how we look at and deal with health, illness and healthcare in this country. It is time for all of us to strive to become and stay as healthy as we can be. It is time for our healthcare system to transform itself from a “sick care” system to a proactive, “healthcare” system. That is what my book Restoring “Health” To Healthcare is all about. It offers a simple, uncomplicated plan on how this can be accomplished including financial incentives for up the $5000 for those of us who choose to improve our health.

 It is time to “STOP THE MADNESS”!

 

We have had problems with the rising costs of healthcare in our country since 1960. It seems no matter what we try to do, these costs continue to rise. Then in 2010, we had the passage of the “Affordable Care Act” or the ACA (Obamacare). While this law enabled millions of uninsured people to have health insurance, it did not stem the high costs of healthcare as they continued to rise. Here it is eight years later and we are still facing the same problems we have had all these years. There is continued debate, anxiety and concern by most of us about the state of healthcare in our country and there seems to be no consensus of what to do about it. Here are some of the most recent business transactions and healthcare law proposals/changes.

CVS, the large pharmaceutical company is going to buy Aetna Health Insurance Company.

United Healthcare Group is going to buy about three hundred healthcare clinics from Da Vita Medical.

Hospitals are morphing into large health insurance plans and health insurance companies are getting into the hospital business.

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.

Amazon is now entering the medical supply business.

Speaker Ryan spoke of getting back to dealing with entitlement reform in 2018 which could mean looking at changes in Medicare and Medicaid

In 2017, the state of California tried to pass a single payer system for everyone who lives in the state including the three million uninsured. It eventually lost traction because it would have required to raise taxes and it was tabled for the time being.

In 2017, we saw Congress successfully pass the tax reform bill which will end the unpopular mandate forcing people to buy insurance which will take effect in 2019 and is predicted to have a negative impact on the future of the ACA.

In January of 2018, the state of Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed an executive order that called for his state insurance department to allow insurance policy options that did not include some of the regulations required by the ACA. Blue Cross of Idaho is set to offer several plans that do just that. This is thought to be another step in undermining the ACA. While this is technically against the current healthcare law (the ACA), it remains to be seen if the Trump administration will allow it to move forward. There are reportedly several states waiting to follow in Idaho’s footsteps if it is successful in this endeavor.

The states of Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky have instituted changes in their Medicaid programs that will require healthy adults to work or be in job training programs to continue to get Medicaid benefits.

In October 2017, an executive order was signed by President Trump that expended the association health plans or the AHPs and also offered short-term insurance plans which would not have to include some of the essential health benefits such as maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health services. These plans are less expensive and help many people who felt priced out of the ACA’s one-size-fits-all plans. Now Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a bill this past Wednesday called  “Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act” (S.2507) that would make these short-term health insurance plans permanent.

All of these changes demonstrate to me that what we currently have is still not working and we keep trying things that we hope or think might actually work. Trying to fix something that is broken is a good idea but what frustrates me is we keep focusing on making recommendations, business deals, changes and/or regulations to the different entities  that are part of the healthcare industry which I call the  providers. So after almost six decades now of going in this direction and still being faced with the same problems, you would think we might consider a different approach.

Here are some questions we need to think about. Before I list them, I want to make it perfectly clear that I believe all of us should and can have access to affordable, quality healthcare and that no one should be disqualified from getting health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition or conditions.

More and more people are getting sicker and sicker at younger and younger ages. How is this going to lead to less healthcare costs?

Many of these people have chronic diseases/conditions (such as: heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer and obesity) which accounts for at least 75% of healthcare costs? How will this lead to a reduction in healthcare costs?

All of these people will need more and more prescriptions, doctor visits, tests and procedures. How will this lead to less healthcare costs?

We already spend more than twice the average per year per person on healthcare (over $10,000 per person) than any of the other industrialized nations in the world and we are the unhealthiest of all. Why?

Our healthcare professionals are the best trained and best equipped in the world and yet we are the unhealthiest of the above referenced nations. Why?

It is time to accurately diagnose (the pun is intended) the cause of our healthcare crisis which is too much disease. It is time that the various groups that make up the providers of healthcare focus their knowledge, energy and resources on all of us (the providees).  They need to educate, empower, support and incentivize all of us to make health a priority in our lives, to take primary responsibility for our health, to emphasize the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices and being more “proactive” about our health.

I know how to do this and have put forth a simple, uncomplicated plan to accomplish this in my new book Restoring “Health” To Healthcare.

 

 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.

 

 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.

If we:

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

Exercised regularly

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?  

JUST SAYING

 

Chief Complaint: Heel Pain

I have been a podiatrist for almost half a century and the most common chief complaint that I have seen over the years is heel pain. The duration of pain can be a few days to weeks but in most cases months or longer until a patient comes in to the office. The majority of the times after a history, physical examination and often x-rays; the diagnosis is a painful condition called Plantar Fasciitis. It is associated with pain and stiffness on the bottom of the heel or heels especially when getting out of bed in the AM or after sitting for a period of time. It can be very severe and one often finds it difficult to walk without limping.

 These patents often have tried various things to help themselves which could include: rest, ice, elevation, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, massage, foot and leg stretching, using a Plantar Fascial Splint at night, shoe insoles and trying different shoes. All of these can be helpful to control the symptoms sometimes but often the pain persists or returns. This is because the underlying cause has not been identified or addressed. The cause is usually related to inefficient foot and leg functioning which leads to muscle imbalances in the lower legs and feet. Once that is properly addressed, the symptoms usually subside and the patient is once again pain free. If it is not, the problem can easily reoccur, and sometimes become almost disabling and lead to more aggressive treatments which could include surgery.

Chief Complaint: The High Cost of Healthcare

Now we compare the above patient to the United States of America. The chief compliant is that health insurance premiums are too high as are co-pays and deductibles. In addition, many people cannot afford health insurance to begin with or are under insured. The duration of these symptoms has been almost sixty years now. The USA has tried: HMOS, PPOS, Medicare, Medicaid, reducing reimbursements to healthcare providers, clinics and hospitals. In recent years, we have also tried the passage of the Affordable Care Act and now trying to modify or repeal it, the merging of pharmacies and insurance companies, plus we now have health insurance companies purchasing healthcare clinics. Finally, there is talk about modifying the Medicare and Medicaid programs in 2018.

One thing all of these have in common is something to do with money or funding or cutting money for this or that. There is another thing that they all have in common but is never really addressed and that is diseases which create the demand in the first place and is the actual cause of all of them. Until we acknowledge that and do something to fix it (decrease the number of us contracting diseases and therefore needing “sick care”) we will not be able to get this now very chronic and serious problem under control. My book “Restoring “Health” To Healthcare does just that.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Pertaining To Your Health

It is the things that we do or do not do to our bodies that have an awful lot to do with how healthy we are or are not. For most of us, no matter what illness you are suffering from, no matter what discomfort you feel and no matter what is wrong with your body, you should ask yourself the following questions. Apart from medications or other treatments that may have been recommended by my healthcare provider(s), what am I not giving or doing to the cells of my body that they need?  What I am giving or doing to the cells of my body that they do not need?

Making the necessary lifestyle changes based on your answers should improve your ability to at least be as healthy as you can be, if not totally overcome whatever health challenges you may have. In addition, they should enable you to prevent others in the future. Giving the cells of the body all the nutrients they need (oxygen, food and water) and creating a healthy living environment within your body (exercise regularly, get enough sleep, try to reduce or better manage stress), should enable them to produce enough energy for the body to do everything it was designed to do, be as vital as it can be and be able to take care of itself as it was meant to do. In addition, if you are unfortunately ill or injured, should help expedite healing.