Seven years ago, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regardless whether Congress repeals, replaces, or reforms the ACA, the end-result will not be a Health Care System (HCS). At least not an HCS that will empower Americans to become healthy.
What America has, and will continue to have, unless there is a radical change, is a Disease Care System (DCS). Satan himself couldn’t have conspired to put in place (or maybe he did) such a deadly system in the name of health.
The interplay among pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, insurance companies, the medical establishment and the government continues to sustain the Disease Care System (DCS). Yes, there are islands of wellness care in the ocean of disease care, but the waves of a demand for a ‘magic pill,’ a quick fix, and a profitable bottom line are eroding the shores of these islands of wellness care.
A Disease Care System you say? Yes, that’s what I said. We go to the medical doctor (M.D.) when we have a ‘dis-ease.’ We go when are not at ease in either our body or mind or both. To put us at ease, the medical doctor usually prescribes a medicine designed to treat the disease we present during our visit.
We typically don’t go to see the medical doctor to learn how to improve our health. Health is about the ability of our body to heal. The World Health Organization’s first principle in its constitution states that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” [http://www.who.int/about/mission/en/] No, we don’t go to the doctor to become healthy. We go to get treated for a disease.
I called the Disease Care System (DCS) deadly. Why? There is an article that reports that “the modern American medical system” is responsible for more deaths than heart disease and cancer combined. [see http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/04/death-by-medicine-an-update.aspx ]
Do I dare blame those stalwarts of the American medical industrial complex for developing this deadly system? They were only responding to the needs and sometimes the demands of those to whom they sold their products (medicines/drugs) or delivered their services (operations/treatments).
Americans are notorious for wanting the quick fix, the simple solution, for wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. (The rise in obesity in America shows we are eating a lot more cake.) And so, Americans have what they asked for: a disease care system. They have said, “If I look and feel good, I must be healthy. Why should I eat wholesome food? Drink plenty of water? Move my body on regular basis? Think good thoughts? Fortify my immune system?”
Until recently, I was a reluctant supporter of the American medical industrial complex. I had my annual check-ups. Otherwise, like many Americans, I didn’t step foot into a doctor’s office unless there was a problem. For many years I read about ‘preventive medicine’ and the role of nutrition and exercise in avoiding issues like heart disease which ran in my family. I did my best to incorporate what I read into my lifestyle, but I was still a dependent of the DCS.
Finally, I decided to ‘unsubscribe’ from the Disease Care System (DCS). For the past 6 years, I have subscribed to a quintessential health model consisting of five essentials (‘quinte’ means five.): nurture the heart-brain, keep the nervous system flowing, oxygenate the body, provide good nutritional inputs and eliminate toxins. The wellness organization I subscribed to is called Maximized Living Doctors. (maximizedliving.com) These doctors show their patients how to live the “5 Essentials.”
Following the 5-essential health model, I became responsible for my well-being. I now had an approach to health and wellness that stood in contrast to the medical industrial complex. I no longer had to blindly place my faith in my medical doctor trusting that he, and sometimes she, knew best.
Confusion is probably the best excuse Americans have for their complicity in the disease care system. The medical industrial complex generates voluminous amounts of research which usually reaches consumers in the form of advertisements or articles in the media. At times the information is contradictory.
The other day I heard a report about how American cardiologists conflict with their peers in Europe as to whether salt should or should not be part of a ‘heart healthy diet.’ The American cardiologists say ‘no’ to salt while the European cardiologists take a more tolerant view of salt.
To add to the confusion, every advertisement for a drug must disclose the possible effects of the drug apart from the condition for which the drug was developed. As these effect lists get longer and longer, it’s no wonder consumers have tuned them out. All they want to know is if I take this pill, I’ll get better, right?
When was the last time you read the disclosure document that comes with the prescribed medicines you picked up at the pharmacy? Don’t you just do what your medical doctor tells you to do? The doctor’s name is followed by the initials “M.D’ which stands for Medical Doctor, someone trained about medicines among other things. They should know. They did graduate from a medical school, didn’t they?
However, there is something for which I will hold the medical community accountable. Generally, the medical community acts as though death is a problem to fix. This unstated belief permeates our treatment programs particularly when a disease has progressed to the point where death is imminent. Our health care professionals go to great lengths and expense to keep their patients alive. In hospitals, death is “a bad outcome.” Death is a problem to fix.
Death is a natural and inevitable part of the cycle of life. Right this moment, in each of our bodies there are cells being born, growing, and dying with new cells replacing the dying cells. We see the same cycle of birth, growth, death, and renewal in nature as we move through the seasons. Yet, we continue to treat death as an anomaly, something to avoid – avoid talking about, avoid facing truthfully, and ultimately to avoid happening to us.
Holding the belief that death is a problem to fix undermines our medical system. Treating death as problem causes us to spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources to extending life, regardless whether it is preserving quality of life.
The belief that death is a problem to fix leads to a related belief – that patients are problems to fix. The person becomes a patient identified by a disease. You are no longer a person that has a disease. You take on the identity of the disease. You are a diabetic, an obese person, a cancer patient, an alcoholic, a manic depressive.
The wise teach that what we focus on expands.
With our disease care system, we focus on the symptoms of disease. That’s is what is expanding – the treatment of the symptoms of diseases at an ever-rising cost. Treating symptoms provides a recurring revenue stream. Teaching how to maintain health to reduce the incidence and duration of disease is not as lucrative.
In a wellness or true health care system, the doctor and patient are working together to maintain health. The patient doesn’t wait for a symptom to show up before going to the see their partner in healing, the doctor. The patient is regularly visiting with the doctor to maintain wellness and to detect whether conditions exist which will lead to diseases. A wellness system teaches how to create an environment of health, not an environment of disease avoidance. It teaches steps to take to improve the body’s defense mechanisms, the immune system, to eliminate the diseased cells before they have a chance to overwhelm the body as is typical with the various forms of cancer.
The shift in the paradigm of a health care system from treating symptoms of disease to enabling wellness and healing not only leads to better patient outcomes but is also more economical. What is more cost effective in the long run: paying extra for eating organic food, buying supplements to provide nutrients that our foods can no longer supply, spending time to learn how to maximize the effectiveness of our immune system or 4 to 7 courses of chemotherapy at an average cost of $10,000 per treatment to treat a cancer? The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” surely applies.
While we wait to see what happens to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I would recommend taking responsibility for your health care. Learn how to develop the healing capability of your body and mind. Take small steps in the direction of wellness each day rather than waiting for a symptom to manifest that is so painful you finally decide to go see your doctor. By the time you experience pain symptoms, as much as 40% of an organ’s functionality has already been lost.
The choice is up to you. Do you want to maintain the Disease Care System or do you want to participate in a Health and Wellness Care System? The choice is yours.