How long do we have to keep our heads in the sand about our lack of healthcare in this country? I confess right up front, I am a Naturopathic physician and although I try to work within the system, it is difficult to keep quiet with the most recent news that the new estimate on Medicare pharmaceutical benefits is now 720 billion for a 9-year period. Yes, billion, with a B, dollars. It was bad enough when it was 400 billion. Some of the most recent drugs approved to be paid for by this plan are what are considered “lifestyle” drugs like Viagra.
Why are we spending so much money on the disease management instead of healthcare? We are spending on the wrong end of the healthcare spectrum. If we spent even half of the 720 billion on proactive, preventative medicine would decrease our need for pharmaceuticals. What this benefit covers is disease management, not healthcare.
Most pharmaceuticals treat symptoms. Given the body is incredibly well adapted with homeostasis or balance, a symptom is a sign of a late stage imbalance. In other words we don’t get symptoms until our body can no longer compensate for the imbalances in our bodies. A symptom is a warning sign that something is wrong. If we suppress symptoms with pharmaceuticals, we get rid of the warning sign and never fix the underlying problem. Now don’t get me wrong, some drugs are absolutely essential…most are not. A recent example is Vioxx. Vioxx helps to reduce inflammation that causes pain. With the recent scare of side effects, many people have had to go off of Vioxx. Guess what, they still have the pain. Vioxx is just a band-aid. When you remove the band-aid the symptom is still there. We never get to the root cause.
The top causes of death in the US (cardiovascular, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc.) are predominantly caused by lifestyle. Locally, Clark County is on the right track with their Community Choices 2010. This is a proactive approach to enhancing health.
We need to work to keep our bodies functioning optimally. If each of us could make better food choices, exercise, improve digestion, keep blood sugar under control, keep our immune system optimized and reduce our toxic load, we would not need pharmaceuticals. We would make it to retirement and actually enjoy it. Your health is your choice. Being proactive in your own healthcare, and empowering yourself with information enhances the probability you won’t need the Medicare pharmaceutical benefit. Take charge, get informed, and improve the quality of your life.