Americans spend an average of $316,600 on health care in a lifetime. One third of this is used during their middle ages and half is spent during their senior years. For a full one quarter of Americans, they will spend more than their total assets on out of packet expenses for health care in the last five years of their life. Most of these expenditures are a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. When we are young and forming our habits we think we are invincible. We are not. We will eventually pay the price of ignoring the warnings our body gives us, suppressing symptoms, and generally living a lifestyle that is not conducive to great health.
There are three main reasons health care costs are so high.
- In 1950 there was about 790 people per doctor in the United States. In 2022 there is about 330 people per doctor.
- Most of our doctors are specializing. Specialists tend to be very familiar with their expertise but not so much with the rest of the body. Hence their treatment may be causing harm to other systems. Doctors support each other by referring their patients to specialists.
Once I was experiencing chest pain. I went to emergent care to rule out heart attack. I did not identify myself as a doctor. The doctor on call would not give a diagnosis of any kind. He started referring me to specialists. When he got to the 6th specialist I got disgusted and told him, “Fat chance.” He then proceeded to tell me that I was going to die if I didn’t go to them. I saw the chest x-rays and the results of the ECG and the blood work. I knew the heart was not the problem. I knew another condition that might cause severe chest pain was a gallbladder attack. I went home and began treating my gallbladder. I have not experienced any more chest pain and I am not on any of the drugs those specialists would have put me on. And, lo and behold, about a decade later I am still alive.
- There are many unnecessary visits to doctors, too many procedures and too many surgeries. Part of this is because of insurance. People don’t have to pay the cost of their visits so they tend to go more often. Some medical analysts estimate 36% of doctor visits are not needed, 56% of surgeries are not necessary and half of all hospital time is not medically indicated. Remember these doctors paid a lot of money for their education. They need many patients to pay off loans then to support extravagant life styles. While I was in medical school I heard doctors explaining that once they had successfully treated a patient they still had them come in regularly and they would tweak their treatment every time the patient came so the patient thought they needed to continue to return for proper care. Frankly I think that is dishonest. I am sure not all doctors are like this but I know some are.
An even more disturbing fact is the rate of surgeries performed has more to do with the number of surgeons in the area than it does on the number of people in the area. One study showed an area with 4.5 surgeons per 10,000 people experienced 940 operations that is almost one for every 10 people. Another area with 2.5 surgeons per 10,000 experienced 590 operations. That shows that with about half the number of doctors there is about half the number of surgeries. Sometimes surgery is necessary but when you have been trained as a hammer you see all kinds of nails that need to be hit. These surgeons often don’t use or even know about treatments that could solve the problem without surgery.
The view of a naturopathic doctor is that every single part of the body is necessary for optimal health. Just because science hasn’t discovered why an organ is important doesn’t mean it is not. Once an organ has been removed the body will never have the ability to reach optimal health again. Too many times if something becomes inflamed it is removed instead of learning why it became inflamed and fixing the problem.
The third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer, is prescription drugs. I am not talking about drugs on the black market or bought on the street. I am talking about drugs prescribed by our doctors and filled by our pharmacists. The biggest culprits are: Narcotics, then antidepressants, then anticoagulants and antibacterial drugs. There is a huge number of prescription drugs that fit in these categories.
Don’t get me wrong. The mainstream health care system in the US can do some really amazing and wonderful things. If ever I am run over by a bus please take me to a hospital. I know that is the best chance I have of survival. But once I am stabilized I will check myself out so I can get on with the business of healing.
The heroic tactics that save lives during a crisis are truly miraculous. These same tactics when applied to everyday health care can be quite detrimental. Good health is the result of healthy decisions and discipline about lifestyle, diet, exercise, rest, mental and emotional health.
Today people do not want to endure even a little pain or illness. When something feels off they immediately go to their doctor so the symptoms will go away. Naturopaths are taught never to hide symptoms until they know what is causing them. Once we know the cause of the problem we can begin to treat it. Then alleviating symptoms can be done unless it would interfere with true healing.
The medications that hide symptoms are not going to provide great health when the basic laws of nature are violated. Americans need to understand they are responsible for their health decisions and that symptoms are warnings that something isn’t working properly. If changes aren’t made and if the dis-ease is not addressed the symptoms will get worse. Americans need to understand the quick fix of drugs and surgery may take away symptoms but in most cases do not improve health. Although these may work quickly, and with very little change to our lifestyle, they are not the solution for the majority of cases. When this is understood then the miracle of natural health care will bring us to the forefront of health in the world.
- “Our prescription drugs kill us in large numbers”, PMID: 25355584, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25355584/
- “Surveillance of prescription drug-related mortality using death certificate data”, PMID: 17536879, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17536879/
- Amy S. Kelley, Kathleen McGarry, Sean Fahle, Samuel M. Marshall, Qingling Du, Jonathan S. Skinner. Out-of-Pocket Spending in the Last Five Years of Life. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-012-2199-x
- “The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs”, PMID: 15149482, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361028/