Monday, September 14, 2009

Healthcare Reform Is Not About Health

According to the CDC, 70% of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by preventable chronic disease, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. We have a nation of chronically diseased people, with nearly half of them on prescription drugs. It is no wonder that healthcare costs have skyrocketed. The only way to cut those costs is to get people healthy. Unfortunately, healthcare reform has nothing to do with getting people healthy, it's about shifting around who pays.

The Problem

If every single American has health insurance, it will not make a bit of difference in the average person's health. Visiting the doctor for expensive diagnostic tests doesn't prevent illness, nor make you healthy. Mammograms and colonoscopies do not prevent cancer- they detect it.

Expensive drugs do not make you healthy. Drugs treat symptoms, they do not cure the causes. When you are prescribed drugs for high blood pressure or cholesterol, or beta blockers for heart problems, you must take them for life. If you stop the medication, the symptoms return because you haven't solved the problem. All drugs have side effects, and often more drugs are prescribed to mask them. It can become a vicious cycle.

Who Profits
Healthcare makes up one sixth of our economy. Having this much of our economy dependant on disease is not sustainable. Yet there is too much money at stake here to expect anything to really change.
The healthcare industry has everything to gain and nothing to lose by keeping you sick enough to keep coming back for more office calls, tests, and surgeries. If they cure you, their source of income walks out the door. There is a lot more money in performing heart bypass surgery than in preventing it.
The pharmaceutical companies want you to believe that disease is caused by bad genes you were born with. They don't want you to know that your lifestyle affects which genes are turned on and off, which has been proven by Dr. Ornish and others.

The drug companies want to turn all aspects of life into medical conditions. Can't sleep? Take our pill. Mild arthritis? Take our pill. (They're hoping you don't read the fine print that tells their drug has been shown to cause cancer.) Shy? Then you have social anxiety disorder, take our pill. And by the way, there is no medical reason to have a period, so take our pill.

Agribusiness is subsidized by us to produce cheap, unhealthy food.
 The food manufacturing industry can now pay the American Society of Nutrition to recieve the "Smart Choices" seal to use on their labels in order to make processed foods containing trans fats and lots of sugar appear healthy.

It's Time for Personal Responsibility

Now just to clarify, I am not anti-doctor. I think the medical community is wonderful for injuries and acute illnesses. When my son broke his arm, you'd better believe I was glad they were there. But the way we go about treating chronic illness in this country is just plain wrong. We have zero focus on prevention.

We have an overwhelming lack of personal responsibility when it comes to our health. The sad truth is that most people take better care of their cars than of their bodies. No one would fill their gas tank with gatorade, the car was not designed to run on it. Yet they fill their bodies with all kinds of  toxins that the body was never meant to ingest or process.

Education and prevention are the keys. One trip to the supermarket will show how ignorant most people are about diet. Their carts are loaded with processed "food" that is nutrient deficient and loaded with chemicals, with nary a fresh fruit or vegetable to be seen.

The way to improve health is by taking proper care of your body. Get rid of the processed food. Eat a  mostly whole food vegetarian diet, exercise, get enough sleep, and find healthy ways to deal with stress such as yoga, meditation, or prayer.

We need to take charge of our own health, no one can do it for us. In spite of what big pharma's marketing claims say, there is no magic pill that will cure everything. Our health is in our own hands and we need to step up and take responsibility.

Here's what  Michael Pollan  has to say on health care reform.

Here's what  Dr. Dean Ornish  has to say.


tastyeatsathome September 14, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

Agreed. If I could only find a doctor that shares this belief - there are so many times that I visit, and tell the doctor, "Please tell me if there are lifestyle changes that I need to make in an effort to prevent/alleviate this..." and all too soon, the doctors are ready to give you a pill. It's unfortunate, and the only way it will change is through us - the American people - demanding that we change the way our health is treated. The first step is education...and there is a lot of education needed!

Debbie September 14, 2009 at 8:58 AM  

GOOD POINTS! This is a HUGE industry that really needs monitoring - but NOT by the government. It's far too easy to pop a pill than to think about lifestyle. Great post!

janet September 14, 2009 at 9:52 AM  

tastyeatsathome, at 18 the dr. wanted to put my son on high blood pressure meds without ever telling him to try changing his diet, losing some weight and exercising.

Debbie, you are right that the govt. should NOT be the ones monitoring!

D.Suplicki September 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM  

You're absolutely right. Growing up I had a wonderful doctor who had me change my diet to alleviate migraines, after several things were changed we discovered too much chocolate was the cause more often than not. I still get them on occasion, because I'm extremely light sensitive but they are bearable. After that doctor retired, I've had people try to throw everything from tylenol to vicadin down my throat. No thank you - I'll take a cool cloth, a dark room and a hellova lot of sleep instead.

Sad that so many doctors don't take diet into account before tossing pills at a problem.

janet September 14, 2009 at 2:01 PM  

D.Suplicki, you're right, it is sad that pills are usually the first choice, they really should be the last resort.

Wendy September 14, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

You should send this to your Senators. The ones from Maine shouldn't be the only ones who get this type of letter from their constituent(s) :).

janet September 14, 2009 at 10:07 PM  

Wendy, I often write my Senators and Representantives, but judging from their responses I don't make any difference.

Angie September 15, 2009 at 10:48 AM  

Great post, I agree people need to take responsibility, but the reality is, no matter how hard we try to persuade them, I honestly do not think it will ever happen. Having worked in dentistry, cavities are the number one infection in children, and are growing at an astonishing rate. They are higher than ever, the surgeon general even called for action, but no one wants to change any laws to help people access their healthcare. I would be in front of the line, and would go get a nanny if I could be a medicaid provider and help unfortunates, however, laws only let this happen on rural indian reservations. (By law if I look in a person's mouth outside of a dentist's supervision, like my neighbor, i will lose my license). In our large metro, there are only 2 medicaid dental providers, that I know of, and the wait list is incredibly long. This is the same all over. States have lots of power and never enough time to change anything. My husband is also in healthcare. Most practitioners are seriously opposed to socialized medicine, but what they tend to forget is their major source of income, and the ones who never deny payment are Medicare. I personally don't know why it would be so terrible to change the name of Medicare, extend to all ages, and cut out the nonessential care it pays for. They pay for acupuncture, chiropractic, and other non essential, not saying this is noneffective, but it doesn't save lives. However, they don't pay for essential dentistry (extractions), and I have seen too many people die or go into coma for long periods from abscessed teeth. I think if they really streamed down Medicare to the essentials, extended to all ages, and took the states power away from them for health insurance regulation, (and federally regulated it) so we all could by competitive bare bones policies, and also made the premiums tax deductible, it would help. As for the drugs, dr's say they prescribe what people ask for, or they will just go somewhere else, its really simple bad judgement by individuals. This is long, I rambled, sorry!

janet September 15, 2009 at 2:06 PM  

Angie, I appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree, far too many people suffer illness because of bad teeth and no coverage to fix them.
Doctors that prescribe whatever patients ask for are not interested in health but in money.Drugs should always be a last resort, but I've known too many drs. that prescribe them first and don't even mention lifestyle changes.

H September 20, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

It is almost as if I could have written this myself. Get out of my head! (I just posted something similar!)

The thing I have the hardest time with is seeing obese children. So wrong. It is neglect.

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