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Health Care Costs
Can We Really Afford Not to be Healthy and Fit?

By Richard Dafter - for

     Recently, my family became part of the group of over 40 million Americans who don't have health insurance coverage. We are blessed, however, because our lives revolve around health and fitness and all of us eat entirely organic. But what if we didn't have a healthy lifestyle or our best efforts were to no avail?

     There were two ominous sounding articles in Reuters Health that certainly could add to anyone's anxiety level. One, according to the American College of Physicians said that, "Primary care -- the basic medical care that people get when they visit their doctors for routine physicals and minor problems -- could fall apart in the United States without immediate reforms." The organization, a professional group which certifies internists goes on to state that, "Primary care is on the verge of collapse. Very few young physicians are going into primary care and those already in practice are under such stress that they are looking for an exit strategy. Dropping incomes coupled with difficulties in juggling patients, soaring bills and policies from insurers that encourage rushed office visits all mean that more primary care doctors are retiring than are graduating from medical school."

     The headline of another report reads, "Healthcare costs top benefit concerns in the U.S." and goes on to say that "Eighty-two percent of employee benefit specialists polled said they are trying to redesign some or all of their healthcare and employee welfare programs to control the spiraling costs of U.S. corporate healthcare benefits. Most specialists cited cost reduction as the motivating factor for changing their programs."

     Finally, in one of the most ominous signs of all, an editorial in the New York Times entitled, "Seducing the Medical Profession" says, "New evidence keeps emerging that the medical profession has sold its soul in exchange for what can only be described as bribes from the manufacturers of drugs and medical devices. It is long past time for leading medical institutions and professional societies to adopt stronger ground rules to control the noxious influence of industry money on what doctors prescribe for their patients. Last week two new cases came to light that reveal the lengths to which companies will go to buy influence with doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals. Reed Abelson reported in The Times on Jan. 24 about a whistle-blower's lawsuit alleging that Medtronic had paid tens of millions of dollars in recent years to surgeons in a position to use and recommend its medical devices. In one particularly egregious example, a prominent Wisconsin surgeon received $400,000 for just eight days of consulting."

     So if doctors can't afford to be doctors because of spiraling costs, companies can't afford to provide healthcare benefits and some doctors have to "sell their souls" to make ends meet, what more do we need to be convinced that we have to take control of our health and fitness through diet and exercise and healthy lifestyle choices? Quoting from the article Iatrogenic Death, by Kenneth Loy, "Have you made it someone else's responsibility to keep you healthy? Do you depend entirely on a process where you become ill through poor diet and lack of exercise and then turn to prescribed medications to make you feel better? Shouldn't you instead be taking responsibility and doing whatever it takes to achieve optimum health and fitness?"

     If you are not convinced already that we can't afford not to be healthy and fit, then perhaps knowing that iatrogenic death is the third leading cause of death in the United States will make you think twice about making health and wellness a top priority...

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