By Dr. Mercola
Disease-Management versus Health Care
I’ve recently written a couple of articles about the exorbitant cost of medical care in the US, which is incompatible with the poor health outcomes of Americans at large.
Americans pay the most for but reap the least amount of benefits from their health care, compared to other industrialized nations. Overcharging and over-treating are two factors contributing to this enormous problem.
Andrew Weil, author of You Can't Afford to Get Sick: Your Guide to Optimum Health and Health Care, recently jumped into the fray with an article on CNN1 and a full one-hour long CNN documentary. The documentary is called Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, which CNN premiered on March 10. Weil writes:
“The most insistent political question of the past four years has been: How can more Americans get access to medical care?
The federal response was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Better known as 'Obamacare,' it is a complex mix of insurance changes and tax credits. When the act takes effect on January 1, 2014, it will provide access to insurance to about 30 million people who currently don't have it.
Unfortunately, that was the wrong question. So the looming 'answer' is wrong as well. Here's the right question: How can we improve medical care so that it's worth extending it to more people? In other words, how can we create a health care system that helps people become and stay healthy?”
I could not agree more with Weil’s statement that the US does not have a health care system; we have a disease-management system.
It’s a system that is wholly dependent on expensive drugs and invasive surgeries, opposed to preventive measures and simpler, less expensive treatment alternatives. In short, it’s a system rooted in an ideal of maximized profits, opposed to helping people maintain or regain their health.
The majority of the diseases we’re trying to “manage” in this manner are lifestyle-related, and if you don’t address this root cause, you’ll never get better. You’re just paying for overpriced band-aids that do absolutely nothing to fix the underlying cause.
As Weil states:
“Making this system more accessible by passing costs to taxpayers will simply spread its failures more broadly.”
Like myself, Weil promotes integrative medicine (IM) as a better alternative to the current system. IM offers a combination of conventional medical therapies and complementary or alternative therapies "for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness."
Placing greater emphasis on prevention, IM fosters long-term health, and when disease does set in, conventional drug and surgery approaches are used sparingly and/or as a last resort.