Can we solve the health care crisis by focusing on preventive maintenance?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent– The thing that the Democrats, Republicans and everyone else trying to “solve” the health care crisis haven’t yet figured out, or at least don’t want to acknowledge, is that there is no one secret to solving the whole sorry mess. Fixing our health care debacle will require a complex plan with buy-in from both sides and some concessions by all involved. Those concessions are what will hang them in the end, as in the current political climate compromise has become anathema, and reaching across the aisle is seen as being akin to sleeping with the enemy.

That said, preventative care is one thing that would save us billions in medical care. From children to the elderly, too many people don’t have access to regular medical exams that could easily catch problems before they turn into crises. Too few young doctors are taking up the kinds of practices that would extend this preventative care, often because there’s simply no money to be made providing it. That would change if there were a larger potential customer base.

And unlike the rest of the morass, this one’s pretty easy to implement. A stipend or some other incentive could be granted to all citizens to seek out preventative exams once or twice a year. No coverage would be extended for anything beyond the exams, as there are other programs for that. I’d like to see it made mandatory, although that might be difficult for the public at large to swallow. The illnesses and poor lifestyle habits that could be caught and corrected early before they develop into long-term care situations would save us billions in a very short time.

Our emergency rooms are choked with legions of people who have no access to primary care who are seeking treatment for illnesses that were ridiculously preventable. We can fix that far more easily than we can solve the entire health care puzzle.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– Much of the health care crisis today could be eased through preventive medicine and maintenance. Prevention and education regarding health issues that are publicized and utilized on a wide scale basis could go a long way in solving the cost of health care and other problems associated with health care. The tangled and toppled mess that has occurred with Obamacare (ACA) and its economically unfeasible payment and premium demands has rendered health care impossible for many, so new and better ways of dealing with health care need to be instituted.

Reducing the rate of illness through preventive medicine is one of the most effective ways to solve the health care crisis. Personal accountability for health care could go a long way in diminishing the number of people entrenched within the health care system. Any remaining more traditional system should be reserved for those who are chronically ill or incapacitated, such as disabled veterans and those with incurable and rare diseases that require experimental medicines and other therapies in order to survive.

The rate of heart disease, strokes and circulatory problems as well as cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, stress disorders, kidney dysfunctions and gastro-intestinal related illness are all on the rise in the United States, and many adults are plagued with these illnesses because of unhealthy lifestyles. Preventive measures for these problems can be solved through physical activity and exercise as well as good nutrition, normal weight maintenance and the avoidance of tobacco, alcohol, addictive substances and harmful pharmaceuticals.

In order to activate preventative measures, individuals will obviously have to recognize at some point that it will be necessary for them to assume a healthy lifestyle to live a normal life outside of a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic or treatment center. This alternative will be one of the few ways, if any, to avoid the high cost of health care, expensive drugs, surgeries and long-term treatment. Other health care choices interspersed with preventive care choices should be considered through clinics, cooperatives and individual physicians that offer preventive medicine advice and care, flat fees, and graduated payment schedules for normal and extended medical procedures.

Acquiring a healthy lifestyle can be difficult as many simply do not want to sacrifice current diet and addictions in exchange for real health. Others are too lazy, unaware or oblivious to the facts that a number of health conditions can be reversed or remedied through lifestyle changes. Then there are those who are indoctrinated in traditional medicine and refuse to accept alternatives, and then even others don’t care about any kind of medical intervention, until they are on their last legs.

The only alternative to reluctant participants and those who do not want to be responsible for their own health care is to implement programs that take a public health approach, which incorporates preventive medicine information and healthy lifestyle programs that help people put into practice how conditions can be helped with alternative approaches.

People have to be willing to change if they want to maintain their health, and if they are relieved of the burden of huge insurance policies that cost thousands of dollars in premiums, perhaps they will decide that a healthy lifestyle is a more sensible alternative rather than emptying their wallets for the leanest of coverage.

Everyone should be willing to invest in a health care system where prevention is the predominant force. Sitting and waiting around to get sick before seeing a health care provider makes no sense and paying thousands of dollars in premiums or co pays for a scratch or runny nose is no way to save on health care.

With preventive measures being well researched as viable and workable options, they should be adopted into general use. Nutrition, exercise and stress reduction should be the mainstays of a preventative health care system as should clinics, health cooperatives and health care providers trained in preventative medicine.

In order to implement such programs, efforts at the state and federal level need to focus on prevention and public health training programs. The outcomes of such programs will be reduction in health care costs, improved overall health of Americans, and the curtailment of illness across the board.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent– I read an op-ed in my local paper that got me thinking about how best to solve the worsening health care crisis in this country. The writer mentioned intermittent fasting and how that opened his eyes to an alternative strategy of improving his health that didn’t revolve around doctors, prescription drugs, special diets, medical tests, or surgery. He happens to be a doctor of pharmacology-someone who dispenses prescription drugs for a living—yet his mindset did a one-eighty when he adopted intermittent fasting along with healthier eating and lost seventy pounds.

I’ve long believed that the best way to avoid getting caught up in the swirling vortex of rapidly rising health care costs and a riskier world, healthwise, is to stay as healthy as possible and thereby avoid the traditional medical system as much as possible. But most of us take poor care of our bodies, then go to the doctor after twenty years, demand to be “cured” of what ails us, and go back to our unhealthy lifestyles. Despite that, we demand more and better drugs, tests, and treatments, and expect them to be free or cost very little. Who wants to pay doctor bills or insurance premiums when they’d rather buy houses, cars, and toys that they can’t afford even if health care didn’t cost them anything?

We need to try the one-eighty approach. All medical practitioners and health insurance companies need to flip from treating people after they become sick to working with them from day one to prevent illness. The old model of making more money when people are sicker because they need more tests, drugs, and treatments is doomed to fail. One solution would be to switch to having doctors become more like health coaches who regularly connect with patients and advise them on food, nutrition, exercise, and general wellness. Included in the coaching would be dietitians, nutritionists, personal trainers, and others with wellness expertise. A reasonable monthly fee could be charged for those willing to sign up, similar to buying an insurance policy, but the process would be proactive rather than reactive.

The health care team needs to have monetary incentives to produce healthier patients. That can be done by comparing their clients’ health to the average individual and paying bonuses based on how far above average a particular client rates. The monthly retainers would provide a baseline income for these people so the lack of sick people wouldn’t mean a loss of income.

The pharmacist op-ed writer said it best: “The best plan is to treat your body like an expensive automobile. If you had a Ferrari, you would use premium gas, change the oil and filter regularly, and rotate the tires. Our bodies need to be treated as well. Give the body nothing but good food, good nutrition, occasional fasting, and exercise.” But we need to demand that our health care professionals become our pit crew and educate us on how to maintain our human machines.

 

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