03 January 2011

The Broken Healthcare System: Who's responsible?

I think we the people have to take some of the responsibility for the mess the healthcare system is in. These days we overload the system by going to the doctor for every little thing and prefer to hand off responsibility for our health to doctors and pharmaceutical companies instead using a little self-discipline and common sense.

When I was growing up, that would be in the fifties, a person didn’t go to the doctor all that much. In fact, if you were raised on a ranch like I was you hardly ever went unless something was too broke to fix yourself.  Epson salts, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda seemed to take care of most things.

Another lucky break for me was that my grandmother introduced me to Gaylord Hauser when I was either nine or ten. I’m certain of the time frame because my grandmother died in 1960 when I was eleven from lung cancer at the age of 74. Hauser was a pioneer of the concept that there was a direct relationship between diet and health. For many years he was considered a charlatan and a kook. Today he would be considered a guru. I would be surprised if any of my readers have heard of him.

When I was a teenager I purchased his last book called “Gaylord Hauser’s Treasury of Secrets” published in 1963. I made Hauser’s thinking a big part of my own and I believe it has paid major dividends in my life. I checked and Hauser’s books are still in print and available at Amazon.com.

I sure wish my grandma had lived longer. I’m certain there was much more that I could have learned. But, I’m grateful for all that I got. Notice, back when I was a kid young people respected their elders and listened to what they had to say. Well, some of us did.  I’ve always been a square peg in a round hole world.

According to Web MD a whopping 63% of Americans are either overweight or obese. I hope you find that number as staggering as I do. This statistic is as a result of overindulging in fattening foods whilst lounging in the Lazy-Boy and under-indulging in healthy foods and exercise. It’s a vicious cycle. You eat junk because you feel unhappy or depressed. You feel unhappy and depressed because you eat junk and sit on your butt. And, round and round we go. My goodness, 63% of us are on that merry-go-round and it isn’t very merry.

I feel there is just too much emphasis on care and not enough on health. If people would spend more time finding ways to live a healthier lifestyle they wouldn’t be so worked up about the healthcare system and the healthcare system wouldn’t be so overburdened. But, everyone with something to sell panders to our baser instincts and the something for nothing mentality.

In general pharmaceutical companies don’t give a fig about your health. They are in it for the money. Why do you think they bombard you with advertisements urging you to have your doctor prescribe some drug? And, despite a litany of horrendous side effects that should dissuade any thinking person, people are lining up to get them. People they aren’t kidding. They divulge that stuff because it really happens and they want to cover their butts. It’s utter lunacy. I suppose some doctors may feel like they are in a box. If a patient asks for a drug and is denied, what happens if the person has a negative experience with whatever it was the drug was for, lawsuit no doubt. I wonder how many prescriptions are written in self-defense? Now, along with the drug ads we see attorney ads asking for people to join lawsuits over these same drugs because the things they were warned about have happened. Wow, what a surprise. Who would have thought? How much do you think all that adds to the healthcare bill?

All my life I heard about the “joys” of menopause and it was just a given that when you reached a certain age you would go to the doctor and get your Premarin. I assumed I would too. But, I got lucky. In 1985 a friend recommended a book called “What You Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause” by Dr. John R. Lee. I bought the book and read it. It made a whole lot of sense to me. I went the natural route and sailed through menopause as though it never happened. I can’t say those who took the pharmaceutical route had the same experience. In fact I believe many had a lot of trouble with estrogen therapy.

My point for telling you all this is that you need to consider taking responsibility for your own health. Doctors don’t want to see you cut down on office visits. Drug companies don’t want you to discover natural, low cost remedies. They both need lots of sick people in order to make their businesses turn a handsome profit. Do you really want to be a tool? Is it really all that much fun spending your life in the doctor’s office, or worse, the hospital?

I’m no fan of the medical establishment, drug companies or health insurance companies. But, I really think we need to take some responsibility for the state of the healthcare system. I know we all want to believe that we can lead lives of sedentary gluttony and just take a pill to make it all better but that just isn’t going to happen. You have to make sensible lifestyle choices. You have to use a little self-discipline and your noggin. My father forever used to say to me “For heaven’s sake. Try using your head for something besides a hat rack”. I’ve been working on maximizing my health most of my adult life and, at sixty-two, I can honestly say I am in the best shape of my life.

I didn’t even know the healthcare system was broken until it was in the headlines so much you couldn’t avoid it. I didn’t know because I seldom use it. I’ve never been in a hospital except to visit someone else. I take no prescription drugs. I have no arthritis or other diseases associated with my age group. I truly believe that avoidance of the medical establishment has added greatly to my lifetime of good health.

For me it’s all about quality not quantity of life. I have already lived such an extraordinary life each additional day is just icing on the cake. But, for as long as I am on this mortal plane I want to be enjoying it to the max. The only way I know how to do that is to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise. I love cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream and too many other not “healthy” foods to mention. I eat them all but in moderation. The trick isn’t what you do but how much of it. My mantra is all things in moderation. I’m not skinny. I’ve been a size twelve all my life, except for a period when I was a depressed, suicidal teenager. At that time I was a size fourteen headed for sixteen. I never sought help for my depression. Never took drugs for it. I did once take out a revolver, load it and consider very seriously using it. But, the very act shocked me so badly I put the gun away and never thought about doing it again.

I can hear it now “Yeah, easy for you to say you probably have great genes”. Actually, I don’t. My family is riddled with cancer on both sides and on my father’s side there has been quite a lot of mental disease in the form of manic depression and more than one suicide. But, I don’t dwell on it and do my best to live a sensible lifestyle, so far so good.  I could be crazier than a loon but living out here in the middle of nowhere, who would know? I’m certainly not depressed.

The bottom line is, not only are we smothering the healthcare system we’re dying to do it! Wouldn’t it be better to not be so dependent upon the system, leave it for the unfortunate people who really need it? With 63% of the population overweight or obese you can’t tell me people aren’t using the system as a crutch for an unwillingness to take responsibility for their own health.  Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on your health as opposed to needing care?

So, next time you let yourself get all worked up over the headlines about a broken healthcare system ask yourself if you are part of the solution or part of the problem. If you’re part of the problem get crackin’. When you’re healthy you’re happy.

Mark Twain said it best, “Nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits”.

Next week I'm going to weigh on on the deflation vs. inflation debate. Listen to the "experts" at your peril.

©Kinsey Barnard

PS: I added two new galleries to my photoshelter website this week SEA OTTERS and BIG HORN SHEEP


Holly Days Closet said...

I totally agree. I know so many people who are over weight and blame everything for it, all the while eatting more than they should. Long ago I learned to only eat when your hungry and stop when your full, and it's ok to have some cookies just not the whole bag in a sitting. My husbands family is always trying to get me to eat when I'm not hungry. What can I do but just stay strong and say I'm not hungry. Thanks for write this very well put look into our health care.

Walker said...

Holly: Thanks for commenting. I was truly staggered to learn that 63% of the population is overweight. It's not a very good commentary on "We the people".

Anonymous said...

I work in a county hospital Almost all of my patients are obese with hypertension, diabetes and a multitude of other diseases that were brought on by their own behavior. All of us wind up paying for their treatment.

However, there are other factors that are just as costly, such as the amount of money spent during the last year of a persons life treating an incurable disease. For example, my patient yesterday was an 82 year old women having her second craniotomy in eight months, for a brain tumor that kills everyone within two years. At her age, it will be less
than two years. In my grandparent's day, she would have died at home of old age.

When a medical malpractice attorney wins a case, he/she takes 40% of the amount awarded to the patient, plus expenses. If this percentage were lowered and a cap placed on the amount a patient could be awarded, the lawyers would quit filing so many lawsuits.
It may seem nice to give someone ten million dollars or even 100 million dollars, but this money comes from us in the form of higher insurance premiums and higher taxes. The money does not rain down from heaven.

Before health insurance, medicare and medicaid, people had to pay for their own health care and costs were reasonable. When people have to pay out money from their own wallet, they look for the best value and costs come down. Now we don't even ask the doctor or hospital how much we are being charged, because we know the insurance company or the government will pay it.

What I am saying, is that the health care crisis is multifactorial. My prediction for the future is that only the very rich will be able to afford health insurance and the federal government will be bankrupt and unable to pay for medicare/medicaid.

Just some thoughts from my feeble brain.

Walker said...

Anonymous: Hardly a "feeble" brain. You are on the front lines and in a position to see whats going on in the real world. You basically confirm my thinking. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.