Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why It Matters

We are in "it" together. Life, that is, and our healthcare system. Having spent 20+ years consulting in the healthcare system, I could spend hours explaining how each and every one of us impacts the healthcare system for the rest of us. I won't bore you with the details, instead, will trust you trust me. If you're interested. write to me and I'd be happy to explain the technical details. For now, consider this:

Think of a balloon. There is only so much air we can put into the balloon before it will burst. The strength of the balloon walls will eventually collaspe with the increased pressure of adding air. Our healthcare system will also collapse unless we do something drastically different. Why?

We continue to spend more money on healthcare in the United States. Healthcare is now 17.3% of the GDP; we spent $2.5 trillion dollars on healthacare in 2009. Part of the spend is inefficiency and can be fixed, but it almost doesn't matter. Here's why:
  • The vast majority of money we spend in our healthcare system is to treat conditions that are largely preventable and are directly related to lifestyle choices
  • New drugs, tests and surgeries only add cost to the system and their efficacy in treating long-term lifestyle choices is suspect, at best.
The only way to save our healthcare system is for each and every one of us to get, and stay, as healthy as we can. This isn't my problem or your problem, it is our collective problem. If so much of our collective money goes to pay for healthcare we have less money for other things (like education and social security ). It doesn't matter how much of your insurance premium you pay or how much your employer pays. The money comes from somewhere. And the cost goes somewhere. It Acme Manufacturing Company has to pay more in healthcare costs for its employees it is adding those costs to the price you pay for the widget at the store.

Put simply, we have to stop spending so much on healthcare. The only way to do that is for each of us to stop needing so much healthcare. How? We have to reverse the trend of obesity so we use less of our healthcare dollars to treat the preventable health problems (like weight loss surgeries and prespcription drugs to treat high blood pressure, cholestorol and diabetes).

We have to do what we can, each and every day, so that we have a healthcare system to help us when we really need it.

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