Health Care VS Sick Care

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter/blog you’ll know I don’t often talk about the health care system in this country. I’m usually giving tips on how to stay healthy, maintain your weight, etc. However after watching a program on CNN on healthcare and thinking about the extremely high premiums I pay as a small business owner, I’m writing about it. There are many opinions when it comes to health care but it’s clear we are living in a time where our health care system is actually a sick care system and it affects all of us. As Dr. Andrew Weil stated “lip service is given to preventative care practices.”  Yes we have made good advances in medicine that keep people alive longer but actually teaching and educating those on staying well and preventing disease is lacking.

A big part of the problem is how the system is set up. Dr. Don Berwick said “if we can begin to change from paying for volume and how much you do, to paying for outcomes-how well you do, how well the patient does-that will be a game changer.” “People would see now the money is in health and well-being and vitality, not in more, more, more.” It seems hard to believe but in some cultures years ago, you actually paid your doctor to keep you well, not when you were sick.

Years ago when I lived in Seattle I used to shop at Safeway grocery stores. Little did I know they are the model for controlling health care costs. At a time when health care costs have risen 30%, Safeway has kept costs at bay, without any rise at all. How did they do it? They provide financial incentive to stay healthy.

* Have a BMI under 30-save money

* Have your blood pressure under control without medication-save money

* Have your cholesterol under control without medication-save money

* Commit to a regular exercise program-save money

* Don’t smoke-save money

They’ve also created an environment which promotes health and well-being. As their CEO stated “you can’t talk about being healthy and not provide high quality food for employees.”

The statistics today are staggering. The amount of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer in this country is epidemic and some leaders feel it will crush our health care system. The latest report is that half of all Americans will be diabetic/pre-diabetic in the next 10 years-half!

Practitioners like myself that practice functional medicine which is looking at the root cause of a problem, not suppressing symptoms and looking at lifestyle factors know that prevention is where it’s at. Health care will never truly be health care until more focus is given to preventative practices-it will be what it is today-sick care.