"The current system is not working. We don't need more debate about who should pay for healthcare, we should be debating what kind of healthcare we should pay for." -Dr. James Chestnut
There is a subtle shift happening throughout healthcare. Like most advances in thinking, it is illuminating past errors. I want to discuss why we get sick, what we used to think about this subject, and contrast how this is different from present truths. This subject is broad, but I will try to simplify it as much as I can. As a result, I will be looking at general rules, not the rare exceptions to the rules.
Behold my simple lists of awesomeness:
OLD THINKING NEW THINKING
Genes cause my diseases Genes are heavily influences by environment
Sick because missing right medicine Sick because missing the right nutrition
Body is separate from mind/brain Body is intricately connected with mind/brain
Infectious diseases kill most people Lifestyle diseases kill most people
My health is the responsibility of the Dr./insurance company/mom & dad
My health is no one's responsibility but my own
Do you see the contrasts between the two modes of thinking? I would encourage every consumer to do their research, and ask yourself, Why am I sick? What is making me sick? Most likely, the answer you'll write down will point to either:
a) There's something your body needs, that you're not giving it. This is all the stuff you already know, that you hear on the nightly news and The Doctors every week. "You should eat your vegetables." "Exercising 30 minutes a day cuts your risk of stroke by more than half!"
b) Or, you're sick because you're giving your body too much of the bad stuff. "Trans fats are bad!" "Eating refined sugars will give you diabetes." Or, the one you've been hearing for years "ZOMG! Stop SMOKING!!! It'll kill you and your babies!"
We all know these things. Now, there's a few you may not know about (What?! Diary is bad for me?), but for the most part, I haven't told you anything new. The question is: do you directly correlate that delicious soda pop with diabetes? Or a sedentary lifestyle with early onset dementia? Probably not.
You now know a little bit more about what gets us sick, and that it's probably a result of poor health habits. Let me show you one of my favorite slides that I frequently show at the end of lectures I give. On the far left is the number zero, which is death; on the far right is the number ten, which would be absolutely vibrant health -- health so awesome that it couldn't get any better, Jack-Lalanne-type health. We're all somewhere in between, according to our choices. Every time you pick the apple over the donut (or the exercise over the couch, or the moment of gratitude over complaining), you're making yourself healthier; every time you choose the donut over the apple, you're moving closer to death a little bit quicker.
It's important to note that it's OK to have a donut every now and then. There's something special about breaking the rules and splurging every now and then. Just as long as you're choosing the apple far more than the donut, you'll have a good life.
Now that you know, you're responsible. Go choose "healthy."
Frequently, especially with the recent depression our economy has gone through, we're reminded the importance of planning and self-reliance. We've been reminded that it is often us that must pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps, and that it is also our duty and blessing to help others once we've gotten to our feet.
Most of the focus of this collapse has rightly been on money, but there are parallels elsewhere. When one thinks of "self-reliance," one thinks of personal bank accounts, the ability to pay ones bills, of spending less than one takes in, and avoiding unnecessary debt.
What's crazy is that these lessons not only are applied to the realm of money, but in our health.
Are we physically self-reliant? Are we investing in our health? With regards to our bodies, are we taking actions to limit health deficits (fast food, sedentary lifestyle), and maximizing our health assetts (exercise, eating vegetables and fruit at every meal)?
These are important questions to ask, because one way or another, we all pay for our health. I'm not an economist, but I believe we are on the upswing of the financial depression, but that a severe depression of health is slowly mounting. Yet, I am an optimist; we can still turn things around. Therefore, I want my health costs to be minimum, proactive, and even enjoyable. I want to invest in prevention. I want to invest in my physical self-reliance in preparation for the coming storm.
I spent the entire weekend learning about nutrition from a great mind, so I want to give the ideas I present here full credit to his presentation (you can visit that doc's website HERE, go to the "free stuff" part of the page to find other interesting scientific literature reviews).
The weekend was started with these staggering numbers.
16 trillion dollars.
15 trillion dollars.
The above number is our national debt.
The number bellow is our gross national product, how much our entire nation brings in (see google's graph of the number here). Do those numbers scare you? First off, do you even understand the magnitude of the number "trillion"? Before you go any further, watch the below video to get an understanding of how much a trillion dollars is:
Now, let me give you an even scarier perspective. The above numbers are missing something, the medicare deficit they don't add in:
34 TRILLION DOLLARS.
Now, different parties frequently argue about wars abroad as bankrupting our country. Yes, that's a part of the problem, but the gorilla in the room is healthcare, specifically medicare. We can't take care of our sick, elderly Americans.
Out of the 16 trillion dollars we plan to spend, Americans spend about $2.7 trillion on healthcare, AND WE'RE 37TH IN THE WORLD FOR HEALTH.
Want to save our nation, and solve the debt problem in one big swoop? Fix healthcare.
Presently, we have a healthcare system that aims at making insulin more accessible to fix health problems. How is this wrong? Read that previous sentence again until you have an answer. Have it? OK, now you can proceed....
The problem is that we should be preventing type II diabetes well before they ever get it, not trying to manage insulin after the fact.
I know this is a lot of gloom and doom, but sometimes a reality check is necessary to scare us into behavioral change. I am specific in my use of the word "behavioral." Get this right: diseases causes by lifestyle choices are bankrupting our country. Diseases like type II diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Diseases that are easily treatable by making some hard decisions and doing what we already know we should be doing: eating more vegetables and exercise, for goodness sakes!
Now that we know, what will we do? Today?
P.S. In the posts that follow, I'll try to help answer that question.