Right about now, you are probably sick and tired of hearing the word “healthcare.” I certainly am! After months and months or political debates, many of which conducted behind secret doors, neither party members have come to a collaborative decision on what to do next. Meanwhile, the number of uninsured Americans has almost doubled to staggering 86.7 million in comparison to 45.7 million in 2007, according to U.S. Census Bureau. To put this roughly, one of every three Americans is left on their own when it comes to their health coverage.
Until a few months ago I used to think that Universal healthcare was the answer to the problem. If we could be given health coverage as a birth right somehow all our aches, pains and issues could at least be paid for by the government. The financial burden would be lifted of our shoulders and we could take a deep sigh of relief. I no longer believe in Universal healthcare as the answer to long and healthy life and here is why.
Let’s first examine how effective is the current healthcare system. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that in 2007 U.S. health care spending was about $7,421 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Yet the World Health Organization ranks us 37th in overall quality. The growing rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity probably explain why we spend so much on healthcare and get so little health out of it.
In an eye-popping report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in July of 2000, Dr. Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, stated that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The report apparently shows there are:
- 2,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery;
- 7000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals;
- 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals;
- 80,000 deaths/year from infections in hospitals;
- 106,000 deaths/year from non-error, adverse effects of medications.
All those total up to 225,000 deaths per year in the US from iatrogenic causes which ranks medical error deaths as the # 3 killer behind heart attack and cancer (Iatrogenic is a term used when a patient dies as a direct result of treatments by a physician, whether it is from misdiagnosis of the ailment or from adverse drug reactions used to treat the illness.)
Incidentally, this same report found that 7% (one out of fifteen) of all hospitalized patients have experienced adverse drug reaction, one that “requires hospitalization, is permanently disabling or results in death.” These are people who took their medicine as directed.
Big pharma has a lot to do with extinction of human species indeed. Dr. Marcia Angell, author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It, warns about the incredible drug bias in medical research. It may not be obvious that if most of the funding for medical research comes from drug companies, then most of the research is going to be on drugs. That is why it takes so long for research to be done to show that a drug is dangerous. Just think how long it took to research hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and find out that it is harming more women than it helps. In fact, Dr. Angell points HRT research as a classic example of the manipulation of modern medicine by pharmaceutical companies.
The inconvenient truth is that conventional medicine in the United States has a rather dysfunctional approach to treating illnesses. Doctors are trained to treat the symptoms and rarely address the cause of the problem. Worse yet, they prescribe pills for illnesses that you may not even have. Due to the lack of electronic records multiple doctors may prescribe drugs that counteract each other and create unwanted health problems. The premature deaths of Hollywood celebrities such as Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith and more recently, Brittany Murphy, which stated prescription drugs overdose as the cause of death, illustrate my point here.
As you can see, relying on our politicians to choose what’s best for our health has been a recipe for disaster. The problems with our healthcare system are so deeply rooted in monetary and ethical corruption that the present healthcare proposal does not even mention.
Believe it or not, many of our health disorders stem from poor diet and stressful lifestyle. The relationship between nutrition and diseases is well-researched and documented in T. Colin Campbell’s book The China Study. I highly recommend that you read this book so you can understand how you can prevent and reverse diseases through changes in your eating habits. Dr. Campbell writes:
“If nutrition were better understood, and prevention and natural treatments were more accepted in the medical community, we would not be pouring so many toxic, potentially lethal drugs into our bodies at the last stage of disease. We would not be frantically searching for the new medicine that alleviates the symptoms but often does nothing to address the fundamental cause of our illnesses. We would not be spending our money developing, patenting and commercializing “magic bullet” drugs that often cause additional health problems. The current system has not lived up to its promise. It’s time to shift our thinking into a broader perspective on health, one that includes proper understanding and use of good nutrition.”
Dr. Campbell couldn’t be more right about the need for shift in perspective when it comes to our health. Even Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine.” But don’t expect your doctor to give you diet tips when you go to see him or her next time. They are not interested in preventing diseases because that will eliminate the need for their services. It’s better to keep the patient dependent on drugs so ongoing business is secured. You may not want to accept that but preventative medicine is bad for the profits.
Instead of waiting for others to choose what type of healthcare we get, which treatment is covered, what doctor we can keep, etc., it’s time that we move from the passenger to the driver’s seat. It starts by accepting responsibility for our health and making it a top priority. We can eliminate our chances of developing cancer, stop heart attacks from happening, minimize the possibility for diabetes and maintain healthy weight simply by changing our diet. When our bodies receive optimal nutrition diseases have no chance of survival. And that is the BEST health insurance one can get.
Copyright © 2010 Zoe V. All Rights Reserved
I completely agree with your point that it is the individual’s responsibility to take control of their health. Eating a healthy diet and doing minimal exercise prevents a lot of the prevalent health issues in our country. You cannot play God, that is for sure, but you can take the best care of yourself in your own power.
Good article Zoe. Now I need to know what constitutes a healthy diet and is still fun and easy to eat when going out to normal restaurants.
Awesome post. Really awesome. I like your writing Zoe keep up the good work.