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Monday, November 14, 2005

How Much Does Prevention Cost? (And Whose Priority Is It?)

Wellness Web Coach

Many local governments are struggling with soaring health care costs. Medicaid is poorly underestimated, therefore, poorly funded. The lower income brackets struggle to attain affordable insurance that fits their needs. Smaller communities are losing health care professionals for the more lucrative metropolitan areas. Basic medical care provided by family practices is dwindling because medical specialties are more attractive career choices. Why has health care become out of reach in cost and in geographical distance? What can we do about a disappointing health care system?

Looking at current trends, it would appear that the U.S. should be considered healthy with our health care dollars reserved for crisis medical care. However, in the book, Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services, and Technology by B. Starfield, (Oxford University Press, 1998) cited health care spending in the U.S. at $3724 per person, which is almost twice that of Japan’s health care spending. Japan is ranked #1 in quality health care; the U.S. ranks 37 compared to 191 countries. The U.S. is ranked last in infant mortality compared to 12 other industrialized countries.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported in The New York Times, January 8, 2002, that the increases in health care costs are due to the high cost of pharmaceuticals. However, more pharmaceuticals have not lead to better health. The March 2004 issue of Life Extension Foundation showed that medical intervention is now considered the number one cause of death, with medical doctors and scientists providing stacks of papers to prove it. This article is such an eye opener that I included a link to the entire article (Click Here For LEF).

Demonstrating how less intervention may be best, The British Medical Journal reported decreased deaths at an Israeli hospital when the doctors went on strike.

It appears that more money is spent on others expenses besides direct patient care. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2003 that health care administration costs, benefit programs, hospitals, practitioners, nursing homes, and home care agencies make up $31% of all health care costs, while Canada’s administrative costs are half that. Even with all this spending, we are the sickest nation and medical care is now the number one cause of death.

Increased spending has not resulted in better health. How we spend our money now needs to shift. Government and personal spending both need to be overhauled. According to Dr. Bob Martin on his radio program, only 3% of our health care dollars are spent on prevention. His idea of prevention includes nutrition, exercise, regular chiropractic visits, stress reduction, limiting the use of drugs, and managing health concerns conservatively to avoid surgery.

Unfortunately, insurance programs would rather pay for a heart bypass instead of regular use of high quality grape seed extract supplements to maintain healthy arteries. The increased use of credit cards to pay for eating out and fast food not only endangers our health, it also keeps people in such a high debt ratio that simple things such as gym memberships, chiropractic care and shopping for organic groceries are placed lower on the list of priorities. Regular patients in my office know about the chiropractic studies showing better overall health and significant money savings when ongoing chiropractic care is part of a preventive/maintenance program.

Changing health behaviors is not easy without the proper support of a health care team that focuses on prevention. If a dollar went into a slush fund for every New Year’s resolution that was forgotten by Valentine’s day the National Debt might be paid off. The good news is there is a Wellness Paradigm shift gathering momentum. As more people realize the rewards of embracing the attitudes toward self care and prevention, there will be less burden on our society that currently provides temporary and expensive solutions to the health care crisis.

More Links:

British Medical Journal--Deaths Decrease When Doctors Don't Work

An Ounce of Prevention: Lessons from Katrina

Dr. Bob Martin

Drugs Don’t Work on Most People

If you look at your grocery newsstand you will see a free copy of the October issue of New Health: Holistic Approaches for Western/Central New York. In this issue, an article written by Steve Connor reports that the vice president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) admitted that drugs only work for a small portion of the population. The statistics show that 90% of drugs will help 30 or 50% of people. This may sound like a new revelation, but the pharmaceutical industry has known this for a long time.

Frustrated consumers have tried many types of prescribed drugs that did not give them the results they hoped for, had dangerous side effects, and were withdrawn from the market. It is sad how the same drugs continue to be prescribed by doctors even though patients continually report that their health conditions do not improve. The pharmaceutical industry is very good at promoting the "fashion of drug taking." Isn’t it the industry’s goal to sell as many drugs as possible? The more drugs we take the bigger profits they make.

GlaxoSmithKline is developing a "genetically friendly" type of drug line. Since current drugs only work for a small number of people, GSK is focusing on the genetic similarities in people who respond to specific drug therapies. They hope to predict how well a drug will work for someone with a certain genetic makeup. This is being touted as a new field of "pharmacigenomics," – drugs designed for genetic match-making.

While this may sound more promising because the drug companies truly want to see their products working well, the old adage that one cannot fool Mother Nature still rings true. Sometimes we are trying to the reinvent the wheel. At least the drug companies are trying to figure out why humans cannot be lumped into a one size fits all category. We are fortunate to have the option of natural health that focuses on proactive care rather reactive care. Proactive care still has safer outcomes, costs less and, puts the consumer in the driver seat. The educated consumer makes confident decisions. Avoid being an experiment. Take the time to educate yourself on wellness.

Click Here For the New Health Digest

Go Home for your Appointment: House Calls with a Twist

Homic Advanced Chiropractic is growing! Services are expanding to meet the need for more wellness care. That means I have to tell you to go home! And why not? Home is where the heart is. We want to take care of your heart just as much as your spine, so I’ll talk to you at home. While I can adjust you in the office, I can cover more health information over the phone in a wellness coaching session. We can schedule it any part of the day while you are in the privacy of your own home. We can take more time to cover wellness topics and design an individualized wellness plan. After dinner, while sitting in your slippers, your mind can relax. You can concentrate on the most important wellness issue - making a better life for yourself. When your body is stuck, so is your mind. Wellness coaching is a great opportunity to concentrate on being your personal best. Advanced Chiropractic will address your pain, but more importantly, will provide more opportunity for achievements.

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Happiness Doesn’t Get Enough Attention

I found an interesting book at Seymour Public Library. It is called, Exuberance: The Passion for Life, by Kay Redfield Jamison. She is also the author of, An Unquiet Mind. The title caught my eye because it sounded so strong and, indeed, this author has a strong message. She commented on the lack of study of exuberance. She believes there is too much emphasis on pathologic mental states. Mood disorders are heavily researched in the field of psychology. What about the happy people? Why doesn’t optimism have equal importance? What would happen if we subtly shifted our awareness to the state of exuberance? As a society, what would that be like? I haven’t read the entire book yet, but it has inspired me to ask similar questions.

Is it possible we have not been taught how to be happy? Most people assume they know the difference. It sounds logical. We are careful not to be down for too long. We’ve been taught how to grieve. We know how to offer help to someone who has an addiction. Do you know someone who finds it uncomfortable to be happy or content? Is it so different and so scary that the person remains in a more familiar low mood.

We don’t learn everything in our early education. We are not taught how to save money and create budgets. Very few of us learn how to open up a business. Working on relationships is not a high school elective. Living life with an enthusiastic attitude is not taught either. We may learn from our parents’ examples. Does anyone remember the "Exuberance Lecture?" before the birds and the bees? We waste half a lifetime finding ourselves.

People are looking for answers anywhere they can. Alternative healing has become the new "buzzword." Who knew there was more than one way to heal? New churches are springing up everywhere and Oprah is franchising peace.

People are becoming interested in natural ways to restore balance to their lives. I have mentioned in the Wellness Resource Group that there is a great deal of misinformation regarding wellness. The news inundates us with bits and pieces but we’re still left with gaps. Don’t give up. Let’s not forget social wellness. Each of us has wisdom to share. Being open-minded is the first step to cultivating exuberance. The Wellness Resource Group meets the first Thursday of every month to discuss these things.

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