I continue to be amazed that the debate over changes to the nation’s health care system is not focused, or at least that a significant part of the debate isn’t about how to reduce the need for so much expensive medical intervention/treatment in the first place. The current debate assumes that the current level of medical care is a given, that it is going to increase as the population ages, and that more and more of the population will likely become obese, get diabetes, have heart disease, get cancer, etc.
Health & Wellness
Another cost to be considered in the access to health care debate along with the huge costs of lifestyle preventable diseases caused by tobacco and other intoxicants, diet, and lack of exercise that I blogged on yesterday, is the costs to the medical system of medical malpractice insurance. The actual costs are hard to come by but are of two types, direct and indirect (indirect costs are the costs of unnecessary tests and treatments ordered by doctors solely to protect themselves from getting sued).
Speaking about tobacco health care related costs which are estimated at $96 billion per year, that figure is dwarfed by the health care costs and productivity losses associated with just 5 diet related chronic diseases which are estimated at $864 billion per year.
As we are about to be asked to pay $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years in extending medical insurance benefits to almost everyone in the nation, President Obama's "struggle with smoking" becomes more relevant. The annual US health care costs related to tobacco related illness is estimated at an astounding $96 billion, with a further loss of productivity cost of $97 billion. The total health care and lost productivity costs per packet of cigarettes are estimated at $10.28, whereas the average cost of a packet of cigarettes including sales tax is less than half that at approx. $4.80.
In a scary case that makes it even more worrying to go to hospital, a medical worker injected the painkillers intended for patients into herself, then filled the used syringes with saline solution and injected the patients with that, exposing them to Hep C.
According to a May 8, 2009 article published on Natural Foods Merchandiser's website (Natural Foods Merchandiser is the leading natural products industry publication) there is a link between the modern factory farming methods for pigs and the Swine Flu outbreak. The story states: "Mounting evidence suggests that the recent outbreak of swine flu, or the H1N1 virus, may have begun as a result of massive-scale farming practices.
There is a startling new book called “The China Study” written by Dr. Colin Campbell that contains the answers to the nation’s health care crisis. And what is that answer? It is not compulsory health care, it is not the spending of billions of dollars on hospitals.
In front page news today is a story about a landmark victory over the tobacco industry. The article “Senate grants FDA power to regulate Big Tobacco”, published by the Honolulu Advertiser, tells of how the federal government will likely soon have the power to regulate the manufacturing and marketing of cigarettes, and will gain the power to stop the addition of things like “cherry” flavoring to cigarettes, and the use of marketing targeted towards young people, such as the infamous Joe Camel. Quoting from the article:
Those who are loathe to exercise can take heart. Blame the refrigerator—rather than not going to the gym—for your ever-expanding waistlines. This is according to a new United Nations study released at an international obesity conference in Amsterdam this past May. It shows that overeating accounts for the obesity epidemic in America.
“Over-eating, not a lack of exercise, is to blame for the American obesity epidemic,” the study says, while warning that physical activity could not fully compensate for excess calories.