Health Care Crisis: Pt. 1

Health Care Crisis


Our nation faces a health crisis due to the increasing burden of chronic disease. Currently, 7 of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are chronic diseases, and almost 50% of Americans live with at least one chronic illness. People who suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and arthritis experience limitations in function, health, activity, and work, affecting the quality of their lives as well as the lives of their families.

Health care is on track to be our nation’s biggest industry. As a share of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.8 percent in 2015, and U.S. health-care spending increased 5.8 percent to reach $3.2 trillion per year, or nearly $10.000 per person. This figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than the other countries of the world. What drives this business is treating and managing chronic disease, basically sick care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treating people with chronic diseases accounts form 86% of our nation’s health care costs. I find this totally unacceptable given that 80% of these diseases are preventable.

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, yet we are rated last in health care when compared to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.  A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund finds Americans are more likely than people in other countries to have more than one chronic condition such as arthritis, heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes. It found 28 percent of Americans have multiple chronic conditions, compared to 14 percent in Britain and the Netherlands, 18 percent in France and 22 percent in Canada.

Nearly 70% of our population are on some type of prescription medication. We fill over 4.3 billion prescriptions per year. Many chronic and degenerative conditions are becoming epidemic and the United States currently leads the world in almost every disease and chronic condition.  Although the U.S represents 4.4% of the world’s population, we consume 75% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs.

The best business strategy is to grow your customer base, and then convert them to repeat or permanent customers. The treatment of chronic conditions with pharmaceutical management has epitomized this strategy. Noted economist Paul Zane Pilzer makes this disconcerting deduction:

“It is more profitable for medical suppliers to produce products consumers use for the rest of their lives than to make products that a consumer might use only once.   Invariably, this means developing products that treat the symptoms of diseases rather than the cause or the cure.”

In the strict terms of dollars and cents, comedian Dick Gregory is accurate when he suspiciously states when describing the pharmaceutical industry, “Patients that don't die are good for business!” 

Drug companies spend $4 billion a year on ads to consumers shaping and contributing to our belief that there is a pill for everything. Ask your doctor about…whatever drug they are talking about? It’s what we are taught and hear multiple times a day in the media. More than 80% of those age 65+ regularly take prescription drugs, half of which take four or more.  If drugs were the answer, then we should be the healthiest people on the planet!

There is another answer and we all need to Be Healthy by Choice, not by Chance because if we leave our health to chance, chances are we are not going to be healthy.

To be continued next week…