Green Consumer

Health Care is Neither, Here’s Why

Everyone is weighing in on what type of health care plan we should have. Some people think it should be universal – a government funded and run system that covers everyone from cradle to grave. Other people think that’s too radical and prefer a system that more closely resembles what many people have now – privately run, for-profit health care insurance companies funded by employers and employees. My opinion is that it doesn’t much matter which of the current versions of health care plans eventually gets through Congress and into circulation. None of them will help very much because they don’t address the real health problems in America.

They’ll work for the pharmaceutical and food companies, who are the real cause of our health care crisis. They’ll work for the lobbyists who make sure that the drugging of America and the sorry state of our food supply aren’t even mentioned as a contributing factor in why so many people are sick in America or not as healthy as they could be. They’ll work for the Cancer Society and the Heart Association and the other organizations that have people wearing pink and donating money to “cure” the big diseases that kill so many of us. But they won’t help most of us get cured or – more importantly – prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes and the conditions that are so intimately connected with the “Big Three”: Obesity and Poor Nutrition. Nor will they do anything to address the fact that almost half of the population takes at least one prescription drug and almost all of us eat way too much sugar, empty calories and food with pesticide, fungicide and herbicide residue in it.

How in the world can we expect to be healthy when we eat crap? Sometimes, in the case of animals that have eaten feed made from other animals – literally. Does no one else think that it’s ironic that so many people take prescription medicine for heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes rather than make better food choices, eat less or exercise so that they’d lose enough weight to reduce or eliminate these problems?

And, even if everyone of us gets a health care plan, where are the doctors who will care for us? There aren’t enough general practice physicians now to see everyone who can afford to go to them. So, if all of a sudden there are millions more people able to go to a doctor, how will this work? It’s obvious that the educational system we have for producing doctors needs an overhaul immediately and that should be part of any health care plan. However, there are still quotas for how many doctors can be trained and it still costs way too much for that training. How about if doctors could get subsidies if they “gave back” to communities that need physicians? That would allow them to start their professional lives without the burden of huge loans to pay back.

And, how about if we go back to billing for doctor’s visits and not for procedures? That all started when insurance companies got involved, because the bean counters needed to have a code for every little thing that happened during a doctor/patient visit. It’s also how visits went from around a half hour to between ten and fifteen minutes. And, back to increasing the number of doctors again, that also would help with the time factor. A doctor just can’t get to know a patient in fifteen minutes. A patient can’t cover everything they need to say in that amount of time. Maybe if doctors had more time to talk to patients about eating healthier, losing weight and exercising, more people would get the message.

Unfortunately, because most people spend a lot more time watching TV than they do in their doctor’s office, it’s the drug companies with their endless commercials that are listened to and taken to heart. When did we accept the completely irrational idea that most of us need a prescription drug every day? Think back to as recently as twenty years ago. How many prescriptions did it take to keep you alive then? How many pills did our parents and their parents take? My grandfather lived to be 89 and never took so much as an aspirin. My mother lived to be 87 and, until the last few years of her life, never took anything except for two prescriptions for antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. When I heard about it, I told her about how cranberry juice can prevent them and she started drinking a small glass daily and never had any more problems.

And this leads to my last concern about how health care is viewed in this and other industrialized nations. Natural is bad and unreliable and only doctors and pharmaceutical companies know what’s good for us. Now, I’m not advocating that we completely avoid allopathic drugs. There’s a place for them in modern medicine and it would be foolish to say that they’re bad or worthless. On the other hand, I’m really tired of reading about how dangerous it is to rely on natural methods, because they’re unproven, don’t work and are outright dangerous. Dismissing all naturopathic treatments, herbs and home remedies as worthless is just wrong. There are many time-proven natural remedies that work as well – or better – than anything. I’m thinking of a recent study I just read about that found that dark honey worked better than dextromethorphan for coughs in children and another study on Manuka honey’s ability to cure MRSA infections – even ones that are resistant to Vancomycin.

I know from personal experience that drinking vinegar and honey helps my digestion and lowers my blood pressure. I also know that ginger helped my friend’s morning sickness and that cinnamon lowers blood sugar. Not all natural treatments are worthwhile, but then again, neither are all allopathic drugs and treatments. We need to use common sense for health care, which brings me back to why our nation’s brand of “health care” doesn’t care for our health. It focuses on fixing what’s wrong with us, instead of preventing what goes wrong if we don’t eat and live the way we should. Until we understand that, we’ll just keep getting sicker and no amount of drugs or money will be able to save us.