There’s a lot of talk these days about reforming healthcare, and much of this talk is centered around universal health insurance. But the elephant in the room is: no matter who’s paying for the care, our health as a nation isn’t going to improve until we fix the healthcare system.
Americans currently spend $2.4 trillion/year on healthcare. That’s about $4,200 per person. Our nearest competitor, Switzerland, only spends about $2,800 per person. And though we spend far more than anyone, we don’t have the best health. We’re not number two either, nor are we number five, nor ten, nor twenty. In fact according to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 37th in overall health—out of 37 industrialized countries! So we spend the most, but fare the worst.
The biggest reason our healthcare is so expensive is because Western medicine is under the influence of drugs, or more precisely, under the influence of drug companies. These massive corporations are the most profitable companies on earth—by far. In fact, the top ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 make more money than the other 490 companies combined!
These wealthy companies spend $11 million/day trying to convince you to, “Ask your doctor if ‘Toxinex’ is right for you.” (Only one other country allows this direct-to-consumer advertising.) But that’s nothing compared to how much they spend every day trying to convince doctors to push their drugs. They also have more lobbyists in Washington than there are members of Congress and they spend big bucks wooing our leaders to pass laws that will protect them from lawsuits, prevent the “re-importing” of drugs from other countries, or make the taxpayer pay for Grandma’s medication. Of course, all these costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher drug prices.
Drugs are also the biggest reason our health is so bad. The human body is part of nature and nature is infinitely wise. Your body doesn’t do anything without a good reason and it’s always doing the best it can, given the materials it has to work with. That means when your blood pressure is high, it’s high for a reason. Your body is compensating for a problem it’s detected and it’s doing its very best to keep you and all your organs alive. It’s the same story when you have a fever, high cholesterol, etc.
Drugs, on the other hand, are synthetic chemicals. They are designed to forcibly manipulate the body into doing something it would rather not do. And while your M.D. certainly has good intentions, when s/he prescribes a medication s/he is trying to stop the body from compensating for a problem it’s detected. The result of this approach is, sooner or later, new and more difficult health issues arise. This leads to more drugs, which leads to more disease, and a vicious cycle ensues. This is the trap we find ourselves caught in.
The Journal of the American Medical Association printed a study in 1998 showing that properly prescribed medicines given in the hospital kill 106,000 Americans every year. Only cancer, heart disease and stroke kill more people. And yet drugs are prescribed in 75% of all visits to an M.D. Why on earth would anyone knowingly subject themselves to such a backward system of healthcare?
This is not to say that drugs don’t sometimes save a person’s life. There are times when applying a huge amount of electricity to a person’s chest can save a person’s life as well, but I would hardly call that healthcare. I would call that “emergency medicine” or “crisis management,” which is the realm where medical doctors truly shine. So yes, Western medicine, with all its drugs and technology does a few things very well. Unfortunately, getting sick people well is not one of them.
You can learn lots more about this topic in my book: Thugs, Drugs and the War on Bugs, How the Natural Healthcare Revolution Will Lead Us Past Greed, Ego, and Scary Germs. Read Chapter One here: http://www.thugsdrugsandthewaronbugs.com/Chapter%20One.pdf.
September 7, 2010 by Dr. Brad Case