Sunday, July 29, 2012

We're #1! Not Even Close.

We're # 1 ! Not even close.

Would you, or any other American, say no to a health care system that:

  1. Provided universal coverage; cradle to grave medical and preventive care and prescription drugs for every citizen; coverage that couldn't be denied --regardless of pre-existing conditions or prior health history, or terminated for any reason—loss of job, development of significant medical problems, etc.
  2. Allowed any patient to see any doctor, any specialist, any surgeon, and any hospital in the country, and the insurance must pay the bill.
  3. Has insurance that has no deductible—bills are paid from the first dollar billed
  4. Has insurance that pays doctor and hospital bills within a week, and patients are reimbursed for their costs at the end of each month.
  5. Has insurance premiums that are dirt cheap (ie: in 2007: a single person making $20,000/year paid $12.25/month, and the employers share of the monthly premium was $208.00)
  6. Has waiting times to see physicians about the same as in the US, for patients with insurance.
  7. Does a better job of curing people whose diseases are curable and doesn't allow more than 22,000 of its citizens die every year of curable diseases, as does the US, for lack of access to basic medical care.
  8. Has insurance administrative costs below 5% (vs 20% in the US), meaning more money is spent on direct care
  9. That spends less than half the per capita costs in the US ($3165.00: 10% GNP vs $7000.00: 17% GNP).. with everyone covered vs 50 million uninsured in US
  10. Has zero personal bankruptcies due to medical bills vs >700,000/year in the US.
  11. Is NOT socialized medicine, but is a system of private doctors treating patients who buy health insurance to cover most of the cost; and allows those who want to, to buy supplemental insurances, at low cost, to cover what the basic insurance doesn't cover: face-lifts, tummy tucks, erectile dysfunction, etc.
  12. Has a national card for each patient with digitized medical records of every doctor visit, referral, injection, operation, x-ray, diagnostic test, prescription, etc to improve doctor to doctor communication and decrease medical errors and deaths; and, has all of the billing information down to the dollar amount per visit/treatment, and how much the insurance will pay the doctor and reimburse the patient as well.
  13. Has the highest rated quality of care, most cost-efficient and highest customer satisfaction in the world.

What is described above is the health care system of France. France, like all of the other developed countries, except the United States, made the moral decision of solidarity that health care is a right guaranteed to all of its citizens; that the moral imperative to provide basic medical care, prevention and prescription drugs is fairer, works best for their society and the health of the nation, and is most cost-efficient.

The US, on the other hand, does not have a health care system. It is a fragmented for-profit market, driven by the imperatives and principles of profit and growth; where health care is a commodity, bought and sold, like cars and televisions and discriminates on the basis of wealth; where profit and growth—as in all other corporate enterprises—supersede the interests of the society, the individual, and even life.

Compared to other developed nations, our market approach to disease care has failed the customer in terms of quality, access and costs. Specifically, it is 37th in quality, while at the same time being the most discriminating, unfair and most expensive non-system in the world, with the highest rates of medical errors and death, all yielding one of the most unhealthy populations of any developed country. But, it does continue to provide massive profits to the corporations that run it.

The next time you hear a politician or talking head scream socialized medicine, death panels, rationing, the end of free markets, etc. recognize them for who they are, and their fear-mongering for exactly what is. They are the standard bearers for the status quo and the mouthpieces of the vested interests to protect corporate profits, and nothing more. You see, we already have socialized medicine in the form of Medicare and the VA; the two most cost-efficient, highest quality and most highly rated systems in the country. We already have rationing and death panels—insurance administrators who deny claims, coverage, and cancel policies, and craft insurance premiums that make health care unaffordable to tens of millions.

Our market driven system is bankrupting our country, businesses, and individuals. The most obvious question no-one asks is: Who benefits from it? Answer that, and you will see why the status quo is so important and why we, as Americans, are so sick. Here's a clue: follow the money.

We're # 1! We ain't even close, in health care and so many other ways.

Note: #'s 1- 13 above sourced from: The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care: by, T.R. Reid

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Let Your Food Be Your Medicine"

"Let Your Food Be Your Medicine"

Hippocrates (460BC – 370BC), widely considered the “Father of Medicine,” said “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.”

Over 2000 years later, this is still the single best prescription for optimum health. Our abject rejection of, and failure to heed, this advice is the single largest cause and unifying explanation of the lifestyle diseases that plague Western cultures. These Western diseaseses including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease are responsible for most deaths. They have become invisible diseases to the extent that we consider them part of normal aging. They are not.

As recently as 1900 cancer and heart disease combined accounted for only 13% of all deaths. By 2005, cancer and heart disease accounted for 50% of all US deaths. This meteoric rise occurred at the same time the intervening decades heralded significant advances in medical care and the explosion of pharmaceutical drug use.

The most dramatic change in the past 60 years that negatively impacted American health was the epic shift in the American diet and nutrition, compounded by an equal shift to a sedentary lifestyle.
Over the past 60 years the concept of “better living through chemistry” has dominated American life. Big Agra, chemical pesticide and processed food corporations, the restaurant and fast food industries, Big Pharma, and the medical care industry, as aided and abetted by the US government, have all redefined what and how we eat.

How and why this perversion of food occurred is expertly detailed in Marion Nestle’s: Food Politics. In short, it was the result of economic driving forces and special interests pressure on a government focused on driving down the cost of food; combined with bad, fraudulent, and corporate-friendly medical science, incessant marketing based on that science, a media functioning as a corporate mouthpiece, a medical system that feeds on disease, and a public in search of convenience in a fast-paced world with both parents working.

We humans foolishly believe that we can function outside of the laws of nature and the driving forces of millions of years of evolution that shaped our dietary requirements (like those of every other species) without consequences.

Our DNA is 43,000 years old, the same as our Paleolithic hunter-gather ancestors. As such, our food and exercise requirements are consistent with those of Paleolithic man, as dictated by that DNA. Nothing more, nothing less; except that we eat more (especially more simple carbohydrates and sugar, and chemical and processed foods) and exercise less, if at all.

The basics of health are simple:

1.      Eat natural/whole foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds, meats, and fish. Basically, if it lives, grows, dies, and rots out-of-doors (and is within our species specific diet), you can eat it. Cut out, or minimize, all dairy, wheat, corn, pasta, breads, grains/cereals.
2.   Stop eating chemically processed foods, fast foods and snacks, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup.
3.  Take Omega 3 fish oils and Probiotics.  
4.   Drink a lot of water.
5.   Stop drinking all sodas, carbonated beverages, power drinks, and so-called vitamin waters.
6.   Stop smoking, completely.
7.   Exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, or more, every day: a mix of cardiovascular (running/walking/biking/elliptical, dancing, etc) and weight training.
8.  Get plenty of sunshine without sunscreen. Do not allow yourself to burn.
9.  Commit and connect: have meaningful commitments and connections to other people and/or groups.
10.  Cultivate hobbies, goals, etc. to give purpose and meaning to your life.
11. Stop using toxic body, hair, and bath products and sunscreens.
12.Commit to health and get off as many, or all, of your medications as possible. “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.”

Health largely boils down to your choices, priorities, and personal responsibility. Do you want to be healthy or do you want to be sick. The choice is up to you. But it is not a matter of what you want. It is all about what you are willing to change and do.