HEALTH CARE MISTAKES: OUR BIGGEST ONE (ISSUE 171) MARCH 24, 2015
By Diane Gold
Health care mistakes: our biggest one is not being preventive, a topic very dear to my heart. The topic has been in my purview for some time. The rumblings of this article began with a simple conversation.
Harvey, a near and dear friend, and I were having this conversation, that I started, about being tested for vitamin, mineral, phytochemical levels. We did not decide to debate the topic; it evolved so innocently but actually spelled out the way many people in America look at medicine: from the diagnostic perspective.
I said that I thought a primary care physician’s job was to make certain the patient’s systems were in balance and that it was necessary to test whether a person’s nutritional intake was adequately fulfilling the needs of the body. And to discover if there were any imbalances, which would take extensive study; though not always accurate, we could have vitamin, mineral and phytochemical testing. And, as many specialists I have spoken with agree, we shouldn’t have to beg for these tests.
OUR BIGGEST MISTAKE
Harvey replied that when we go to the primary care doctor, we get tests done based on our diagnosis. He also mentioned that Medicare (which he and I both began within the year) only pays for tests that match our diagnoses.
I told him that this is the biggest mistake in all our healthcare system and that I consider it ludicrous. If we believe, and by we, I mean the physicians and dieticians who treat us, that we are asked to get sick and have a diagnosis before looking for weaknesses of which blood is a somewhat good predictor; we are propagating a disease care system, not a health care system. If we believe that it’s important to act well, sleep well, eat well, think well, move well, drink well and measure the result; we will prevent diagnoses often.
HOW TO CORRECT THE MISTAKE
I said to Harvey that I wanted him to think about my view because I realized he was one of the people who was raised as a patient of a Western medical system that professes to cure things through medication and intervention once an imbalance exists already.
1) ACTION STEP ONE
“What if we were to test our vitamin-mineral-phytochemical levels on a regular basis! We would confirm that we were eating well or that we would be wise to adjust a way of eating our nutrients through our daily routine of eating well.”
2) ACTION STEP TWO
(This is a What If Scenario, not because I support the way Big Pharma acts, but because it is powerful, organized, competent.)
Another suggestion to the world is to include Big Pharma to help spread the word about the importance of measuring and testing nutritional levels. Could we pay it to make everyone aware that it’s good health care to monitor nutrition through testing and have insurance pay for the tests?
Since Big Pharma makes such a huge sum from drugs, many of which could be eliminated by nutrition; Big Pharma is not going to come along happily, unless paid. The government won’t regulate it because political campaigns run on its dollars. And its sister and brother (mostly brother) board members in Big Media, Big Petro-Chem, Big Agro, Big Food, Big Data, Big University, Big Finance would be affected and growling, too.
So, please someone who is brilliantly creative; use my scenario and develop a strategy to satisfy the monetary gap so we can use Big Pharma to fix our health care system.
The best creatives for this fix could actually be TV script writers, some of the most creative minds in the bunch.
3) ACTION STEP THREE
Finally, Western doctors have not been trained in the importance of doing preventive tests. They are trained to find a pre-existing condition. Their understanding has been reinforced by the fact that they know that any insurance system works on the disease model and each doctor is monitored for the tests s/he orders by how well they match the diagnoses that exist. Let’s change nutritional education in medical schools. And one way to do that is to employ ACTION STEP 2) which includes Big Pharma, where we give Big Pharma a reason not to hide nutritional findings.
In medical school, much funding comes from pharmaceutical companies, meat. There are also connections to meat, fish and dairy concerns, petro-chemical/pesticide companies, including bioengineering seed companies. What’s important about this is these companies want to sell their products. They want to make a good impression on soon-to-be-doctors who will be advocating care for the goodness of their future patients.
The industries mentioned above know that if they make donations to medical schools, including private donations from board members; school provosts will be more likely to keep industry information out of coursework.
School administrators, required to hunt down the almighty dollar for survival, may also allow industry donors to run seminars for doctors and medical students that are favorable to themselves. In fact, these companies control some of the slant on disease management (intervention) vs. health care management (prevention) by making it clear that their donations depend upon the school’s advocating their positive image.
Also interesting is that pharmaceutical reps as well as other company advocates are wooing medical students even before they graduate. The pharmaceutical budget donates most of the continuing education conferences for already graduated doctors, and, much as we think we are objective, we are wooed by those who buy us gifts.
At this time, Big Pharma does not emphasize disease prevention because it wants us to buy pharmaceuticals to contribute to its livelihood. It’s not that Big Pharma is heartless. But, in order to continue developing monumental drugs that can lengthen lives, of which there are many, and enhance life quality through various combinations of chemicals; the industry thinks it has to blind us rather than educate us.
The truth is, as I see it, that if Big Pharma were tasked to educate us properly, we would all do well. We would still need some of their life-lengthening drugs currently under development, and we could pay the industry for its expertise in marketing, management and an ally in the corporate jungle. We just couldn’t pay as much as they currently make.
INCENTIVIZING BIG PHARMA TO HELP WITH PREVENTION
Let me point out, again, that this is a what if scenario and something to think about or from which to create (rather than criticize).
Since Big Pharma’s marketing machine is in place, we could use it for good. Instead of working against an already built corporatocracy, why not figure out a way to subsidize it for helping to market preventive care in place of disease care with the money we save through the nutritional secrets that are revealed! Here’s why this philosophy could be beneficial to all of us.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, in 2010, Americans spent $20.4 billion dollars on prescription drugs for hypertension (about half of all treatment for hypertension). Let’s say Big Pharma or some independent concern, discovers a natural blood pressure fix, such as chewing turmeric root for 5 minutes a day; we can lower our blood pressure to (low) normal range.
If Big Pharma publicized this, freely and nurturingly, potentially it would be reducing its income by $20.4 billion dollars per year, since everyone could go chew turmeric instead of taking blood pressure lowering meds. In order to incentivize Big Pharma to disclose this nutritionally beneficially evidence; it needs to be given a supplement for its sacrifice. The turmeric association’s making an additional $750 million dollars is so very little compared to the cost of drugs, so any commission the turmeric growers could give to Big Pharma would be a small incentive.
The amount we save on health care, as a nation, would be significant. I do not have a statistic at this point, but I do know that the amount the government saves on sickness might leave room for the government to incentivize Big Pharma. If in 2010, we spent $42.9 billion on blood pressure sickness (according to AHRQ and according to the CDC in 2011, we spend $46 billion dollars), and we used turmeric instead of medicine; we would reduce spending of $20.4 billion on drugs and spend half a million on turmeric therapy. If the government gave 50% of its part of the $20.4 billion dollars being saved to Big Pharma, we might have an actual reality.
Health care mistakes are related to who benefits from what. We all want to lead a good life. This includes making enough money, being healthy and feeling abundant within ourselves.
Imagine if we had the powerful corporatocracy working to evolutionize health care system. Now, that would be something. The bottom line here is that we deserve to be able to test our nutritional values. If doctors, insurance companies, drug companies and all the other related industries that are part of the machine made just as much money from prevention as from sick care; we would be well on our way to honesty, integrity and removing health care mistakes, the biggest one.
Let us put our heads together, and think on how we can make this work. The example here is only food for thought. Much research and discussion is needed to find the most viable solutions to wellness. If we start today, we will have begun. Let’s take this health care mistake and convert it to health care strategy where we all win.
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DIANE GOLD, PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying peaceful conflict resolution, habit replacement and certified in plant-based nutrition.
She is always imagining a better way for us to serve ourselves health. She says,
“I come up with ideas that show how a particular infrastructure might work, in hopes that someone else will be able to build on my idea with a better idea that can create symbiosis for the world.
“I’m always looking for ways to improve the health care systems. In the meantime, let us all take good care of ourselves because we are so worth it!”
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