Protecting Health (Not Healthcare)
Probably the main cause for the increase in healthcare cost is the decrease in health in America. A lack of political will to increase the means of the FDA to protect the people has caused a healthcare crisis. The answer for the long term is not more money, the answer is better health. Getting special interests out of the way of the FDA along with a political will driven by awareness of the core issues and the people will net results.
The FDA has not been empowered or inspired by governance to act in a manner conducive to public health. This is not due to incompetence but more likely due to lack of attention. Merely approving drugs and examining food is not enough to assess the national needs in health. We don't need more and safer drugs, we need healthier bodies that don't need drugs. We don't need more or faster food, we need safer healthier food. If we don't concentrate on these areas the cost of healthcare will continue to soar and the availability of quality healthcare on a per capita basis will continue to decline.
Because this issue has not been addressed in a healthy manner we are now paying more for the consequences of our lack of attention than it would cost to institute preventive measures in the interim. While not the ideal, at this time, it would cost less to institute universal healthcare than to ignore it. This is not the ideal but a transitional method that can be used while we address the core problem.
In a healthy system, we would be healthier and healthcare would be less needed. That requires very smart governance and we are not there yet. So interim and transitional methods must be utilized to control costs and mitigate the damage we have done to ourselves.
Health, United States, 2005 - Report on Healthcare and Cost in the United States
It can be argued that we don't have a healthcare system in America, we have a disease care system. Policy favors the care for dis-ease of health in America as illustrated in the cost of healthcare statistics which have experienced a sharp increase during the Bush administration. By 2003 over 15% of the entire GDP of America is spent on healthcare.
Policy that favors the people and addresses the causative factors of the lack of health would prove most beneficial to the American People.
While there are many considerations regarding health that are extremely important, some are more easily preventable than others. IN these areas, government policy can do a lot of good if we can break away from the negative influence of special interests that have motives that regard profit in their operation and growth schema. This is not to say that profit in and of itself is bad, but that profit at the expense of society has negative impacts that are inconsiderate.
Overweight and Obesity Trends in Adolescents 2 to 19
National Center for Health Statistics
Since the early 80's the number of overweight children has become an epidemic. It has tripled. The long term health and cost consequences of the poor management and consideration of governance and policy on this issue has impacted the cost of healthcare and put severe strain on the system.
We must disconnect form the political system that created this problem through lobbyists and special interest influence if we are to begin to fix the problem.
Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences
Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including the following:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
Obesity Trends in the United States
- During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 1985, only a few states were participating in the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and providing obesity data. In 1990, 4 states had obesity prevalence rates of 15–19 percent and no states had rates at or above 20 percent.
- In 1995, obesity prevalence in each of the 50 states was less than 20 percent. In 2000, 28 states had obesity prevalence rates less than 20 percent.
- In 2005, only 4 states had obesity prevalence rates less than 20 percent, while 17 states had prevalence rates equal to or greater than 25 percent, with 3 of those having prevalences equal to or greater than 30 percent (Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia).
The Center for Disease control reports that obesity a major cause of health problems has increased dramatically in the past 30 years.
Aggregate Medical Spending, in Billions of Dollars, Attributable to Overweight and Obesity, by Insurance Status and Data Source, 1996–1998
The average costs from the assesment minus the low (due to lack of data completion) is 61 billion dollars now being spent on obesity across the nation.
This is something we can all help with, especially the government. Our focus should not be on how to pay for all these costs, but how to reduce them. Policies that address the needs of the nation above the special interest lobbys for the food industry are critical to sovling this issue.
Healthcare is only partially about insurance.
We need to re-examine government and personal responsibility.
The above graph indicates that no recent president has been able to address this problem.
The Centrist Party will conduct research to discover what or why this has been a difficult trend to reverse. Their may be inverse proportional considerations tied to systemic policy decisions that have occurred over the past 30 years.
Note: Red lines are set mid year (before taking office) to indicate metric data points.
Policies, habits, ignorance, education, and even our own naiveté have created the perfect storm to bring us to this point.
The food lobby is a special interest. We must ask ourselves why a food lobby exists? Lobbyists exist to increase profits for their industry. Like cigarettes, food can be addictive. The food lobby argues that people have a choice not to eat certain foods that may not be healthy. But like cigarettes, addictive foods that affect our metabolism body and brain chemistry, need to be considered with appropriate policy adjustments. Unhealthy foods and eating habits encourage consumption like any other drug, but are more nefarious, because they seem more innocent.
The food industry gains in profit and the cost of health goes up. At the same time, the health of the public declines.
We need to evaluate our priorities and redirect our efforts toward a responsible healthcare system that will serve us well in the future. U.S. Census Bureau
What we can do in the mean time.
While the healthcare system needs to be addressed in order to meet the demand and needs of the people we must also consider the best ways to improve the overall health of the nation in order to reduce the cost and demand.
The primary focus for individuals should be on our selves. Each of us needs to learn more about what is right for our body. To be healthy we need certain things:
- Healthy Nutrition - Learning what each individual body needs is a personal awareness that takes sometimes years to understand. Each person is different and the foods we eat have a tremendous affect. Moderation and balance seem to be key to a healthy lifestyle with respect to our consumption habits.
- Healthy Sleep - Allowing the body and mind to rest is essential to health. Healthy sleep means rejuvenating the mind and the body, allowing deep sleep is important to a healthy lifestyle.
- Healthy Work - Work is our way of sharing our value and ability with those around us. It provides income in an exchange of our ability and talent to others and enables interaction and growth. Both physical and mental work seems to have many redeeming qualities. We should embrace our work as we embrace our life as it is a most important aspect of our existence, our livelihood, and our society.
With the advent of the industrial age, lifestyle changed dramatically. We seem to have convinced ourselves that less sleep is good so we can do more work. Nutrition has been abdicated to fast food in many cases.
We move fast, eat unhealthy foods (in a rush) and sleep less. The result is our sleep is disturbed, our anxiety is up, and our bodies are experiencing headaches, illness, obesity and disease including increased propensity for cancers and psychological disorders. This of course increases our dependency on medicines and treatment to compensate for our unhealthy lifestyle.
If the goal was to sleep less and enjoy life more, we seem to have missed the point. Less sleep and fast living usually means our work and quality of life suffers. Common sense in our health means learning more about what our own life needs to be healthy.
Intimidation and policy agenda that reduces the ability of any agency that is tasked with the responsibility of the public health must be eradicated and all scientists and workers in respective fields must be assured that they can perform their jobs in the service of the public without fear of retaliation or intimidation for doing their job.
Smoking Tobacco Usage Statistics
National Flu Activity Map