Astoundingly Confounding

The health care industry is astoundingly confounding to me.

As a nation, more than 75% of our health care spending is on people with chronic conditions. It is well known that chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. It is also understood that four modifiable (aka “you can do something about this”) risk factors: 1) lack of physical activity, 2) poor nutrition, 3) tobacco use, and 4) excessive alcohol consumption are responsible for much of the pain, suffering, productivity loss and early death associated with chronic disease. The industry knows that modern medicine has proven to be an ineffective cure for chronic diseases, so it focuses instead on disease management.

So 75% of the money we spend annually on health care goes to interventions that do little to nothing about the problem. If my company spent $0.75 of every dollar it makes on programs that didn’t work, people that didn’t produce or investments that never paid off, we’d be out of business in short order. Do you see what I mean?

Four out of five Americans believe that the U.S. health care system should place more emphasis on the prevention of chronic disease. It’s easy to see why, but the real problem is that we, the people simply aren’t doing our part. We’re convinced that if we wait long enough someone or something else – a clever doctor, a magic pill – will take up the slack.

Wishful thinking will never be worth a pound of cure.

6 thoughts on “Astoundingly Confounding

  1. Kierney

    This is an excellent point and as you said yesterday, the buck starts here. We can do our part in many ways, either by implementing preventive care strategies in our own household or seeing ways where we can influence the healthcare in a larger scope based on other openings we may have to effect change. We’d probably be surprised at how much influence we can have.

  2. Carmen

    Sadly, this is the current condition of health and health care in our country. And in many other so called modern industrial nations. And why is this so?? The basic responsibility for the care and health, and well being of the body rest soundly with each individual! Perhaps, it is only learning on some level to take true responsibility for it’s, the body’s, care. I hear from individuals frequently that they would do better but do not have the time, or motivation to change. They know what should be done to maintain a healthy body, and some day they are going to do that. Some day! But the some day more frequently than not, does not come until the working systems of the body have suffered so extensively from not living in a healthier manner, as you mentioned above, that they stop working. And then the individual is “forced” to do something. And sadly, that change can move the individual into the wrong direction. A place of giving responsibility for the care of the body to another individual. The problem has always been how to motivate others to move into the right action. Whether it involves health, or any other normal human state of being. Isn’t is truly easier to move from a gentle changing force, than a hurricane in Life. We will receive one, or the other.

  3. Zach

    I think that usually enough time passes between these actions and the results of these actions that a cognitive disconnect is created. People think that their health issues come from the aether, regardless of what they have been doing for the last 20 years, etc… For most people, life is what you put into it. You put in good ingredients, you get the results you expect. This is not always the case, people who make the right lifestyle choices can get sick, and people who make the wrong lifestyle choices can live to 100, but 0.75 cents on the dollar does not come from the right choices being made.

    Personal responsibility is lacking in our modern world, and it can be a hard lesson when the consequences of long term choices come knocking, as they come whether we take responsibility for them or not.

  4. MMc

    We just received our national health care report card and I read compared to other countries we failed miserably. Your post clearly points to some of the reasons. We think we can do as we want, then when the results come, we can through money at it. Well we’re running out of money and frankly there isn’t enough money in the world to save people from themselves. Yep it’s going require us to change or go the way of the dinosaurs.

  5. Ricardo B.

    Yes, I work with this fact every single day. Under the pressures and influences of our current consumer culture and the excessive stress people are under, most folks end up making day to day choices which unfortunately subtract from their health instead of choices which add to their health. It’s not easy for the average person under these conditions to automatically make the right moves, as food science and medical convenience has adapted to exploit these weaknesses.

    But choose right we ultimately must if we are going to make it through in one piece. The tricky part is to be able to survive an overhaul of our healthcare system without it completely collapsing. This will depend much on the willingness of each person to let go of outdated and dysfunctional beliefs while embracing newer, more comprehensive ideals which truly have ‘health’ as a central goal. To make health so real and attractive that one simply cannot look away.

  6. Brenda

    I happened to catch just a glimpse of an interview of Sully Sullenberger, the pilot that landed the airliner on the Hudson 5 years ago, and his wife the other day. They are remarkable people, I have listened to his book on tape that he wrote, this is man of great character. He has held himself very well in all the recognition that he has and still receives. He remains very down to earth and approachable.

    When his wife, Lorrie, was asked about how he responded in that dreadful moment, she simply stated, “He did the right thing in the moment.”

    This was what caught my ear in the interview as I was working and not really watching it. Those words, “doing the right thing”, I know I have read on your blog many times.

    If we all simply did the right thing in every moment we could make the corrections we each need. It is that one moment that can ruin a perfect day, a perfect week, a perfect body, mind or spirit. I know I have had some hard knocks on this one and I am looking to correct that going forward, knowing I may stumble as you stated a few days ago, but it is my commitment.

    If we all did the “right thing in the moment” with the four modifiable (aka “you can do something about this”) risk factors you mentioned, we can change the world one person at a time!

    Thanks Gregg!

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