Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Health Care System Isn't Broken... Our View Of It Is

Obama's stated reason for health care reform? He says we spend too much. "Rapidly escalating health care costs are crushing family, business, and government budgets."

How does he propose to fix that? By spending more. He asserts his health care program will only cost $1,000,000,000,000 over ten years. Only! (But now we know it will cost four times that much.) Nevertheless, Obama proposes $1,000,000,000,000 in taxes to pay for it.

Obama is going to cure rising costs by... wait for it... wait for it... spending more. Impossible you say? I agree. What the hell is he smoking?

Spending more to save money is a bad idea on its face.

Everyone knows that as demand goes up -- so does the price. Obama's cure is surely worse than the disease. The consensus among right thinkers -- exemplified by Krauthammer -- is Obama wants to leave his legacy by turning the country to socialism.
"Obama has a ruthless quest for power. He did not come to Washington to make something out of himself, but rather to change everything, including dismantling capitalism. He can’t be straightforward on his ambitions, as the public would not go along. He has a heavy hand and wants to ‘level the playing field’ with income redistribution and punishment of the achievers of society."
So, Obama wants to rule the world. What does he use as ammunition? He paints a picture of calamity -- Obama says there are 47,000,000 people without health insurance. He asserts this is a problem that he wants to solve.

Now, I disagree that is a problem. Going without insurance is not bad. In between high school and college, I went without insurance for several years. Didn't hurt me a bit. Then there are wackos that assert the health care issue is morally equivalent to the slavery issue:

The gravity of America's health care crisis is the moral equivalent of the 19th Century's bloody conflict over slavery... Today's health system condemns 50 million Americans to ill health and death while guaranteeing health care to the economic privileged. It cannot stand... About 18,000 Americans die each year because they lack health insurance... America has the economic ability to save 18,000 lives each year and end the suffering of millions of more who struggle with illness and disease. The only reason we don't do it is that insurance companies haven't yet figured out how to do it at a profit....Condemning Americans to premature death and ill health so some can earn profits is the moral equivalent of slavery. Some may find the comparison extreme, others distasteful. But history will record it as a fact.

For the record, the link he cites to support his 18,000 deaths, well it only support the notion that the deaths are 'premature', so his assertion that insurance will 'save lives' is a gross exaggeration, at best. Nevertheless, this is the type of broken thinking that socialists are using to increase government control of your life. The Sky Is Falling. The Government Must Do Something. Please Save Us Obama!!!

You know what is causing illness and death in this country? It isn't lack of insurance, that is for sure. The number one cause of disease in this country is self-inflicted. Poor physical condition caused by a lack of exercise and a diet that is high in fat, sugar, and low in nutrients and fiber.

More Disease Prevention: Way Better than More Cure

What if Obama really wanted to reform the US system of care? He would not administer more 'cure' he would follow the maxim -- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I found this from Worlds Healthiest Foods Foundation, an Open Letter to Obama on healthcare:
Scientific studies continue to demonstrate that among all lifestyle factors, no single factor is more important to our health than the food we eat. A campaign educating Americans about the benefits of eating healthier-and how to make healthy eating choices-would be a highly effective and relatively inexpensive means of improving our health.

Because the concept of practicing a healthier way of eating is so amazingly simple, a campaign focusing on healthy eating can easily be overlooked as a means to resolve our healthcare problems. Yet, promoting the intake of nutrient-rich, health-promoting, and satisfying foods-such as delicious fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, whole grains, protein-rich beans, and omega-3 rich seafood-would prove to be one of the most powerful ways to affect positive change in our national health.

Indeed, obesity has increased tremendously, and may be linked to increased health care costs. Obesity is the ill of our wealthy over-indulgent society. Do you know why Obama won't propose a healthier way of eating? Because our national agriculture is rooted around two crops: soybeans and corn. These two crops are processed and re-processed to bring us high-energy and high-fat convenience foods. As George Mateljan puts it:
Implementing a campaign for eating healthier will automatically result in decreasing consumption of unhealthy foods-nutrient-poor refined foods that are high in trans-fats, sugar, and salt (such as cookies, sodas, snack bars, candies, and fast foods), and which do not satisfy your appetite for any length of time. These foods spike blood sugar levels, providing a short burst of energy, but do little to curb satiety. This means hunger quickly returns, and, for many people, the result is a vicious cycle of consuming more calorie-laden nutrient-poor foods, a formula that perpetuates our national obesity epidemic and the chronic preventable diseases associated with obesity: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Let us see what George has to say about the The Key Reasons for our Health care Crisis
Health care costs have risen from $3,468 per person in 1993 to $8,160 in 2008, and costs continue to rise. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, healthcare costs will increase almost another 50% to $13,100. These high costs might be justifiable if Americans benefited by being among the healthiest people in the world, but sadly, we are far less healthy than people living in countries where healthcare costs are much lower. Our current system attempts to manage end-stage disease; it does not promote health. We need to change not just the way in which disease-care costs are paid, but the care that is provided. To lower healthcare costs and make true health care available to all, we need to focus on health promotion and disease prevention, not on how to shift the costs of disease care.
About The George Mateljan Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods. The Foundation is committed to providing the latest scientific information about the foods and nutrients needed for good health. George has specific methods to address the ills of a weathly society. George has further words how we Can Cut Healthcare Cost and Save Billions of Dollars in his Open Letter to Obama
Obesity: If obesity continues to increase at its current rate, analysts predict that by the year 2020, we will be spending 20% of all our healthcare dollars on obesity-related problems. We now know that excess fat, especially visceral fat, is not merely a storage depot for extra calories, but functions as an endocrine organ significantly increasing inflammation and the risk for chronic degenerative disease. The enormous impact of obesity is due to its promotion of other chronic preventable diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancers. For example, experts estimate that one-half of all type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented simply by controlling obesity! If we could lower the rate of obesity (even by a modest amount) through a healthier way of eating campaign, researchers project that we could also lower cases of chronic preventable disease by about 15 million cases. That reduction in chronic preventable disease translates into $60 billion dollars less in treatment costs, and $254 billion dollars more in workplace productivity.

Heart disease: According to research experts, it would not take complicated dietary changes to trigger major reductions in heart disease rates and their associated healthcare costs. For example, if we could simply take the 2% of the calories the typical American is consuming in the form of trans-fat and replace this 2% with polyunsaturated fat, we could reduce our rate of coronary artery disease (CAD) by at least 8%, and probably by much more in the 25-30% range! Since healthcare costs related to CAD total nearly $200 billion per year, we're talking about a potential savings of $50 billion dollars from a single dietary change that swaps a small amount of polyunsaturated fat for trans-fat.

Diabetes: In 2002, an estimated $132 billion was spent on diabetes-related health problems, including about $40 billion on sick day costs and disability related to this chronic preventable disease, including blindness, amputation, heart disease, and early death. Since healthcare analysts predict that half of all diabetes cases could be prevented if obesity were prevented, approximately $40 billion in diabetes-related costs could be cut simply by the implementation of a healthier way of eating that corrected or prevented obesity. I don't have good estimates for the cost savings related to other dietary steps that can be taken to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but I definitely know what these steps are.

Even without reversing the problem of obesity, I am confident that dietary changes to a healthier way of eating could save many lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs related to diabetes, its treatment, and its impact on everyday productivity.

Cancer: The American Cancer Society estimates that we are spending over $100 billion each year on cancer-related costs, and there is some research to suggest that about one-third of all cancer deaths could be prevented by simply choosing to eat healthier food. Since $57 billion dollars are estimated to be lost each year following premature death from cancer, prevention of 33% of these deaths by a healthier way of eating alone would mean about $20 billion dollars in healthcare savings each year. In the case of colorectal cancer, it has been estimated that a healthier way of eating combined with exercise could prevent more cases than implementation of early screening.
What We Can Learn From Other Countries
  • In Japan, health officials check the waistlines of citizens over 40, and those considered too fat undergo diet counseling. Failure to slim down can lead to fines.
  • New Zealand has rules barring people it deems too fat from immigrating to the country.
  • Germany plans to spend $47 million on healthy eating and sports programs and to set tougher nutritional standards for school lunches.
  • Denmark limits the amount of artery-clogging trans-fatty acids in restaurant foods.
  • In an effort to prevent overweight in schoolchildren, a community approach that started in two towns in France has now expanded to 200 towns in Europe under the name "Together let's prevent obesity in children." The program encourages children to eat better and exercise more by taking such measures as building sporting facilities and playgrounds, and offering cooking workshops.
  • And of course, there are the Mediterranean countries where they are practicing a healthier way of eating, by enjoying traditional diets that feature whole unprocessed foods from nature. The Mediterranean diet, lauded for its contribution to health, features fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, and red wine.
  • No other countries in the world allow the advertising of prescription drugs to the public except the United States and New Zealand.
I'm not a fan of Obama anymore, but George Mateljan does a fair job of pretending to be a fan. He has a lot of ideas how we can substitute better nutrition as a preventative measure, rather than reward the medical establishment with more demand when they fail to prevent disease.

If Obama really cared about the heath of this nation and its citizens, he would start with promoting better nutrition and more exercise. He could encourage the educational system to emphasize nutrition in residency programs. He would do what the drug companies will never do -- prevent disease. He would do all of that, instead of reducing costs by spending more; which is an impossibly broken viewpoint.


OBloodyHell said...

> A campaign educating Americans about the benefits of eating healthier-and how to make healthy eating choices-would be a highly effective and relatively inexpensive means of improving our health.

Wrong, flat-out stupid, and a complete waste of time.

Anyone who doesn't know how to "eat well", within certain limits, doesn't care. They eat what they want to eat, because they enjoy it.

And who is to say that is wrong?

Suppose it was demonstrably true eating almost nothing but tofu, bean curd, whey, and oatmeal as a steady diet would increase your lifespan by five years... just suppose.

Do YOU want to eat such boring garbage for your entire life, just to gain an additional five years eating such boring garbage?

Or would you rather eat food you enjoy, knowing that you would pay for your pleasure by having a lifespan reduced by about 5%?

And even if you believed the 5% was worth it, does that mean others must agree and follow suit?

And, if you have socialized medicine, you can damned sure bet that such a demand will occur.

One of the chief arguments for anti-smoking is the argument that it is justified by the increased medical expenses of smokers paid by the State (a faulty argument, mind you, given that they die sooner and so collect less of any pension or social security plan, which produces a net positive -- smokers cost the State less than non-smokers)

How long before someone starts using the added expense to one's mandatory State-run health plan to dictate what everyone can buy in supermarkets and to outlaw the sale of "unhealthy" foods?


LOL -- word verif: "unpoo"

suek said...

I'm overweight. I've had a problem since I was about 33 - I was slim to underweight up until then. My last pregnancy resulted in a 40 lb weight gain, and I simply could not seem to get rid of it. I was 38 when my last child was born. I had breast cancer, had a mastectomy, had chemo and radiation. I'm the only person I know who _gained_ weight during that process.

I don't eat sweets, we don't eat fast food, I cook all our home meals from scratch, and we don't have deserts very often any more. I eat two meals a day. Breakfast and dinner.

I lost weight on the Atkins diet, but as with all diets, gained it back again. If you can get hold of one of his books, there's a very good explanation of why we have an increase in type II diabetes these days.

My problem - and I think the problem with most children - isn't so much what I eat as that I don't get enough exercise. When I was a child, we used to go out in the morning, come home for lunch, then back out until dark. We didn't come inside unless it was dark. We didn't play inside unless it was raining. Now kids hardly ever play outside. It's no wonder they're obese - all they do is watch TV, and play computer games. They can't even play baseball, soccer, or football unless it's organized by adults as an "activity" and their parents take them to wherever the practice or game is.

Not that I think dietary awareness is a bad thing, but it definitely isn't the _whole_ thing.

I once had a book called "The 200 Calorie Solution". Couldn't pass _that_ one up! And no, it wasn't a solution of allowing 200 calories per day. It was a solution of evaluating what you eat normally, and cut it by 100 calories per day. The equivalent of a little less than 1/2 oz of butter. (fats are 9 cals per gram. 28 gram per ounce). Then you look up your favorite physical activity and determine how long you have to do it to burn off 100 calories. In one year, you'll lose 10 lbs. Not a very dramatic loss, but probably one that's good to work with. Another thing I learned from it is that if you consume 200 calories more per day than you need to maintain your weight and activities, you'll _gain_ 10 lbs per year. Not so much, right? Think of it as 100 lbs per 10 years, and it may look a bit different. I also remember that it takes more walking than you might think to burn up those 100 calories. And running isn't really any better than walking, just faster. It's better for your cardiovascular system, but assuming the same distance, doesn't affect weight loss any more.

Somebody borrowed my book - I don't have it any more.

OBloodyHell said...


Try here, if you'd like to replace it

The 200 Calorie Solution by Martin Katahn (Paperback - Aug 15, 1984)
14 Used & new from $0.01

($4 delivered in "any" condition, less than $6 for "very good")

The 200 Calorie Solution ~ How to Burn an Extra 200 Calories a Day and Stop Dieting by Martin Katahn (Hardcover - April 1982)
42 Used & new from $0.01

($4 delivered for "very good", $6.50 for "like new")

People often don't realize that Amazon is also a used book store, so to speak.

I got a copy of a long-out-of-print book called Doomsday Has Been Canceled by Petr Vajk for like $5 bucks.

suek said...

Thanks! I'll think about it! Unfortunately, buying the book won't do the trick - you actually have to put the theory into practice! And I think I've got the theory well in hand - it's the practice part that needs work. Still - they _did_ have a very complete list of activities with 100 calorie "bites". So maybe...

I lose a lot of books by lending them to family members. I don't want to say no, but I _frequently_ don't get them back, and I forget who borrowed them. I need to act like a real library and make them sign books out on a card!

OBloodyHell said...

> I lose a lot of books by lending them to family members. I don't want to say no, but I _frequently_ don't get them back, and I forget who borrowed them. I need to act like a real library and make them sign books out on a card!

Well, my solution is that, if i think a book is good enough to give out on loan, i usually get a second copy via some used/discount arrangement.

P.S. if you did want to go on the "checkout" system, though, there is some software designed for cataloging things that may be of use to you, some forms of it have "tracking" features.