Monthly Archives: September 2009

Re-form the Healthcare Paradigm

I recently read the article in the Washington Post by Kathleen Sebelias, our new Secretary of Health and Human Services. It brought this issue that has been nagging in the back of my head to the fore. She really believes that Obama’s plan will improve the health of Americans. But that is impossible. That is not at all what it is designed to do. It appears to me more likely to increase the number of people who have health insurance, which has not been correlated with Americans being free of symptoms and disease.

The problem with that is that in my experience, the insurance companies have no interest in health. Their focus is by and large money.

If you want to improve the health of Americans, you must begin to look more deeply at what is causing them to be ill. Look at what they are eating, what their stress is, what their daily habits are, and assess their exposure to toxins. If we spent even a fraction of the money that currently goes to insurance companies (who’s kneejerk habit is to reject claims, not promote health) on taking the time to actually figure out the underlying causes of symptoms, we would be at least heading in the right direction.

At some point, Americans must realize that they will pay for their own health. Whether or not they want to filter that money through the pockets of insurance executives and the yachts of the owners of big pharma is up to them. But pay they will. I figure they might as well actually get healthy in the process. Something others seem less interested in.

What makes me think Americans are ready to pay for your own healthcare? They already are.

On the board of directors for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, we have been having the conversation about DSHEA and the supplement industry in general. Even in the currently unregulated state, it is a multi-billion dollar/year industry. I want my patients to have high quality supplements. But I also want them to have access. The real point is that people are ready to implement changes that are not advocated by their insurer. Not only ready, but happy to pay for it themselves. This is because they want to be well. Not just insured. But actually feel good, live longer, sleep soundly.

If you want to improve the health of people in America, you must work with the people who care  most about their health. The two most important groups are the people themselves and the physicians who are caring for them.

When insurers control the amount of time physicians spend, as well as the practice of medicine, the care given is not better. And with all of the overhead and CEO bonuses, it is not cheaper. Mostly, the people are not more well. Most physicians do care about their patients, but have such contraint on their time, they move towards the habitual “here’s your prescription.” The drug may have serious side effects, and rarely does it get to the root of the problem.

Without getting to the root of the problem and supporting the human body, true health is outside our grasp.

If your car’s tired are going flat, is it really ideal to just keep adding air? Sure, that might work to get you to the grocery store and back. But what you really need to do is find the hole. Don’t call your car insurance company. Take it down to the shop and get it fixed. Or buy new tires. Don’t expect someone else to pay for it. They’re your tires.

We spend more than any other nation on health care. If access and money would make us well, we would not rank 25th in the world for infant morbidity and mortality. We would not be lagging behind other nations in overall wellness. Nations who spend a mere fraction of what we do on health care.

As my friend Bill Benda, MD says, this current plan will be short lived. Until we look at increasing health, not increasing insurance coverage, we will be drinking the same old wine out of a new bottle. The public will not tolerate this for very long. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Are you well or are you not well? Believe me, you care more than anyone about your health issues, not matter how simple or serious.