The System

“Spending on health care is rising more rapidly than earnings for workers and their families.”1

When it comes to acute medical care in North American hospitals, we rank among the top nations in the world. US and Canadian hospitals are performing exemplary work in trauma, organ transplant, open heart, brain and other surgeries that save thousands of lives every year.

When it comes to chronic health care the record is abysmal.

The Social Security Advisory Board’s 2009 Report on “The Unsustainable Cost of Health Care” (http://www.ssab.gov/documents/TheUnsustainableCostofHealthCare_graphics.pdf) shows that spending on healthcare is growing faster than the national income and is expected to grow another 70% in the decade of 2008-2018.

The top 4 (of 8) cited reasons in descending order are technology (includes a significant cost of drugs component), insurance (i.e: protection against unanticipated large out-of-pocket expenses.), aging and demographics (1.e.: baby boomers), and “health status of the population” (i.e.: increases in chronic diseases and obesity).

With sky-high drug costs in the top category, one has to question how many non-drug options might be employed to significantly reduce healthcare costs and perhaps even deliver a better quality of health care.

For Starters, consider the following:

  • There are 200 million prescriptions written per year for beta-blockers to treat heart attack and stroke patients. The American Medical Association reported on a large study that showed little or no benefit to the patients with cardiovascular disease, with possibly even harmful effects in some cases.2
  • The “’over-giving’ and broad-scale use of antibiotics in the community, (is) a practice which has the effect of unnecessarily speeding up the ability of bacteria to evolve their defences.”3.  Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/greatest-threat-to-human-health-20110216-1awai.html#ixzz29PQbsek0. 3.  This is leading to alarming increases in resistant bacterial strains in hospitals, all-too-frequently causing the deaths of already immune-compromised patients.
  • America’s healthcare-system-induced deaths are the third leading cause of the death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. There are12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgery, 7000 deaths per year due to medication errors in hospitals, 20,000 deaths per year due to other errors in hospitals, 80,000 deaths per year due to infections in hospitals, and 106,000 deaths per year due to negative effects of drugs. (Source: http://www.health-care-reform.net/causedeath.htm)4. ,11.

What can be done to improve healthcare?

  • Smoking cessation is something that would significantly contribute to reduced healthcare costs. In a free society such as ours one of the best ways to achieve smoking reduction is through education. There have been great strides in the last couple of decades as smoking gradually loses its social appeal.
  • Reduce over-use of antibiotics (see 3.)
  • Reduce over prescribing of drugs (see above)
  • Medical doctors must learn nutrition: (Front cover of  the prestigious journal “Science” shows that disease prevention comes from food, not pharma5.: https://twitter.com/FarmToBottle/status/253842503046926336/photo/1)5. Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’, had it right from the beginning when he said, “Let food be thy medicine.”
  • All healthcare practitioners, food suppliers and governments must provide incentives (example) 9 and education to the public on diabetes prevention10 through weight management, proper diet, avoidance of fructose loading6, avoidance of trans-fats, along with the value and benefits of proper exercise.
  • Our Governments’ and public focus on disease prevention and health promotion will be the only way to save our healthcare systems.  Currently 75% of our healthcare costs go to diseases that are preventable. This insanity can not be sustained by taxpayers.
  • Governments must enforce honest food-product labeling
  • Governments must allow integrative and complementary medical clinics to practice alongside with conventional medical clinics (on the same funding formula as their unchanging colleagues enjoy). Conventional clinics that do not keep up with informed consumer demand would gradually be forced to change, or fall by the wayside.
  • Drug plans must also cover patient use of health-promoting natural supplements along with the already funded pharmaceutical drugs that usually have serious side effects.  Some insurance company health plans have already begun doing this when a patient’s doctor request patient reimbursement for product cost that the physician believes will hasten the recovery.
  • Governments should have a funding formula, similar to that for drug plans, for natural supplements which have proven efficacy and are recommended by the patient’s health professional.
  • Governments could also give tax allowances (or tax credits), under the same provisions as stated above, for insurance companies and for taxpayers who use natural supplements to carefully maintain their good health.
  • The Health Care System must be made more Transparent, Efficient and Accountable. All facets of the the Health Care delivery system must be reconfigured in light of: 1. Promoting Prevention First, 2. Providing Improved Care Team Coordination, 3. Improving Electronic Record Keeping and Inter-Departmental Information Transfer Coordination, 4. Improving the Objective Application of Evidence-Based Treatment, and 5. Providing More Affordable 24/7 Access.  This trend has already begun.12

What can YOU and I do about it?

  • Start by protecting yourself and your family with self-education, by doing all the due diligence you can. We must become our own best Health Care Advocates.
  • Learn how to read trick product labeling that gives only part of the information you are seeking, and often that, in deliberately confusing ways. (Trans fat labeling, for example, is designed to deceive the consumer into believing, in many cases, that the product contains far less than is actually present.)
  • Keep after your politicians and demand honest disclosure in all product labeling. There must be quantitative disclosure of ALL ingredients such as trans fats, GMO7. content, etc.
  • Make relentless use of petitions and emails. They should be sent at every opportunity to politicians at state/provincial and federal health department bureaucrats and legislators.

Supplementary Information:

References:

1.  http://www.ssab.gov/documents/TheUnsustainableCostofHealthCare_graphics.pdf

2.  http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/345488/title/Common_heart_treatment_fails_to_help

3.  http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/greatest-threat-to-human-health-20110216-1awai.html

4.  http://www.health-care-reform.net/causedeath.htm

5.   https://twitter.com/FarmToBottle/status/253842503046926336/photo/1

6.   http://ow.ly/i/ZJV4/original

7.   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/22/superbugs-destruct-food-supply.aspx

8.  http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/10/11/your-health-vs-bureaucrats

9.  http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/10/08/bisc1009.htm

10. http://bsfurl.com/WlcU/1d5W/1Ru0

11. http://www.drbarrydworkin.com/2012/10/07/sunday-house-call-415-october-7-2012-flawed-studies-flawed-drugs-and-people-die/

12. http://www.accountablecarestories.org/

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