By Dr. Mercola
There can be little doubt that we're in a health care crisis of massive proportions. The Affordable Health Care Act is the proposed solution, but to any person aware of the facts, it should be evident that so-called "ObamaCare" is NOT a viable solution.
Now that President Obama has won a second term, it is clear that the Affordable Care Act will be implemented in full force.
When this act was initially introduced, I described it as a mandatory tax despite the fact this was widely denied. Now it is widely accepted that the Affordable Health Care Act is indeed a mandatory insurance tax.
More importantly though, guaranteed health insurance does NOT equate to guaranteed health care. First of all, one of the key factors is access to health care providers, which is sorely lacking already.
Secondly, the Act will promote rather than solve the current problem of wasteful spending. If you didn't already know this, American medical care is the most expensive in the world. The U.S. spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries.
No strategies are included in the Act to actually prevent illness and reduce health care costs. Instead it expands an already flawed model of "care" that has been and continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the US!
$750 Billion Wasted Each Year
A recent review of U.S. healthcare expenses by the Institutes of Medicine1 revealed that 30 cents of every dollar spent on medical care is wasted, adding up to $750 billion annually. To get an understanding of how much money three-quarters of a trillion dollars really is, take a look at the video below.
If you think it's bad now, just wait until the Affordable Health Care Act gets implemented. There's nothing to prevent the wastefulness already inherent in the current Medicare and Medicaid system. Six major areas of waste identified in the report were:
Unnecessary services: $210 billion Inflated prices: $105 billion Inefficient delivery of care: $130 billion Improper payments: $70 billion Excess administrative costs: $190 billion Fraud: $75 billion
The United States spends $2.7 trillion annually — again, TWICE the amount per person as most other industrialized nations. If this spending actually resulted in Americans being among the healthiest people on the planet, I'd be all for it. After all, what is money if you don't have your health?
Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Using life expectancy as a barometer for the return of our investment, shows us that this expenditure is entirely in vain as the US life expectancy ranks 49th in the world, despite the fact that we're spending more on our health care than any nation on the planet.
The United States also gives newborn babies more vaccines than any other nation, yet as vaccination rates have risen, so has our infant mortality rates. In 1960, America ranked 12th in infant mortality among all nations of the world. By 2005, we had fallen to number 30. Today in America, there are more premature babies than ever before and more full term babies die before their first birthday than in most European countries. Is it possible that more is NOT better when it comes to inoculating our young against disease?
The US Health Care System — Not Only Inefficient, But Dangerous as Well
Inefficiency and wastefulness is one thing, but statistics also tell us that the US health care system as a whole is shockingly dangerous, in a number of different ways. For example, did you know that if you have Medicaid, you're twice as likely to die before you leave the hospital compared to those with private insurance? This again goes back to what I stated earlier, that guaranteed health insurance does not equate to guaranteed health care.
But that's not all. Medical mistakes occur across the board, regardless of what type of health insurance you have. An estimated 225,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes, and the real number is likely far higher. I've worked in many inner city hospitals, and I can tell you a lot of medical mistakes, and resulting deaths, are covered up. All in all, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US.
This really should tell us something!
A sad example of this is the recent death of Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Twelve years ago, she authored one of the best articles I've ever read documenting the tragedy of the traditional medical paradigm. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Based on her article, I created a headline that has reverberated through the web ever since: Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US. Dr. Starfield's research documented how 225,000 Americans die from iatrogenic causes, i.e. their death is caused by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy.
Earlier this year, she became a victim of the very problem she sought to bring attention to... She died of a stroke after taking Plavix for about two years.
Over a decade ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. More recently, an article authored in two parts by Gary Null, PhD, Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, Martin Feldman, MD, Debora Rasio, MD, and Dorothy Smith, PhD, describes in excruciating detail how the modern conventional American medical system has bumbled its way into becoming the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.
From medical errors to adverse drug reactions to unnecessary procedures, heart disease, cancer deaths and infant mortality, the authors took statistics straight from the most respected medical and scientific journals and investigative reports by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), and showed that on the whole, American medicine caused more harm than good.
Health Care System has Not Gotten Any Safer Over Past Decade
In 2010, a new analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine2 found that, despite efforts to improve patient safety, the health care system hasn't changed much. In looking over record that spanned from 1976 to 2006 (the most recent year available) they found almost a quarter-million deaths annually were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.
In all, there were over 25 injuries per 100 hospital admissions.
When you add up all the different numbers — and these are likely conservative numbers as they are several years old — you find that our current heath care system is responsible for over 780,000 deaths per year. There are significant costs associated with all these errors as well. For example, the cost of adverse drug reactions3 alone is more than $136 billion annually -- greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care!
How can there be any doubt that this system, indeed the entire medical paradigm, isn't seriously flawed?
Flawed or Nonexistent Preventive Strategies Drive the System
Our current medical system fails to acknowledge prevention in any way, as does the Affordable Health Care Act. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 percent of deaths are associated with chronic disease. Allopathic medicine does well with acute illness and injury, but when it comes to chronic disease the system is an utter failure.
What does the Affordable Health Care Act have on prevention?
Besides tobacco awareness, which most people are fully aware of at this point anyway, the Act wants to address obesity. While this is admirable — after all, obesity is a significant risk factor of at least 20 different chronic diseases — the question is whether or not the system is capable of offering any real solutions.
To get an idea of this capability, let's look at how they've done so far.
One would think that since they control the entire system, including the food supply and federal policy relating to everything from food and drugs to pollution, effective measures based on accurate information would have a beneficial ripple effect. Alas, since the 1960's, when the low-fat myth became the "law of the land," obesity rates have skyrocketed, and are projected to hit 50 percent of the population in the next two decades! A sharp uptick can also be seen in the mid-90's when the first genetically engineered foods were introduced.
The Revolving Door Problem Ensures Nothing Changes
A major part of the problem is the revolving doors between our regulatory agencies and industry. This applies to all major industries, but the pharmaceutical industry in particular.
Most recently, Elizabeth Fowler, special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy and previously the deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight of the Health and Human Services Department, announced that she would be leaving the White House to take a senior-level position leading "global health policy" with drug maker Johnson & Johnson's government affairs and policy group.4, 5
Fowler played an influential role in the development of the new health care reform and was even praised by Montana Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, for being the "architect of the legislation."6 Interestingly, prior to her government work, Fowler worked for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the United States, where she was vice president of public policy. Now, after a successful stint in the White House, she'll be moving on to help lead health policy at Johnson & Johnson.
For several graphics detailing some of the other individuals playing both sides of the fence, please see this link. For example:
- Julie Gerberding, former head of the CDC, a position she held for seven years, is now President of one of the largest drug companies in the world: Merck Vaccines
- Dr. Elias Zerhouni, former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is now President of Global Research and Development for drug company giant Sanofi
- Dr. Gary Nabel also worked at the NIH as the Director of Vaccines, but just a few weeks ago joined Dr. Zerhouni as the chief science officer at Sanofi
- Dr. Gregory Geba, MD worked for Merck and was the lead author on studies showing Vioxx was toxic. Yet he did nothing. Vioxx subsequently killed 60,000 people before it was withdrawn. On July 15, 2012, Dr. Geba was appointed FDA Director of the Office of Generic Drugs
Quite simply, there is massive collusion going on, which ensures not just the profitability of Big Pharma and the medical industry as a whole, but also Big Ag, which is another major culprit behind the nation's poor health. The ultimate price for this collusion and undermining of truth is not just your money but also your health. It's a for-profit scheme, and healthy people do not make good customers.
So, considering the fact that the pharmaceutical industry effectively runs the entire medical system, how are the drug companies doing in their quest to deliver you from illness?
Well, according to our judicial system, not so well. And that's besides the statistics of injuries and death associated with their products. The following chart lists fines levied against pharmaceutical companies for various criminal activities relating to their drugs — including conspiracy and fraud — over the past six years alone.
Drug Company Fines
Year Company Drug Fine 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Avandia $3 Billion 2012 Abbot Depakote $1.6 Billion 2011 Merck Vioxx $950 Million 2010 Allergan Botox $600 Million 2009 Pfizer Bextra $2.3 Billion 2007 Bristol Meyers Abilify $515 Million 2007 Purdue Oxycontin $635 Million 2006 Serono Laboratories Serostim $704 Million7
Most of the Leading Causes of Death are Preventable
Fortunately, there IS light at the end of the tunnel. You CAN take control of your health — you don't have to listen to and abide by this system that makes and keeps you sick in order to make corporations wealthy. President Reagan once said:
"Government does not solve problems, it subsidizes them. A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth."
As previously stated, the majority of deaths are due to chronic, not acute, disease. And most chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Even infectious diseases like the flu can often be warded off by a healthy way of life.
Imagine the lowered death toll, not to mention costs to the economy, if more people decided to take control of their health … heart disease and cancer alone accounted for 47 percent of deaths in the United States in 2010, and there are many strategies you can implement to lower your risk of these diseases. The added bonus to this is that the healthier you are, the less you will need to rely on conventional medical care, which is a leading cause of death.
So what does a "healthy lifestyle" entail? The following is a short list of the basics expounded upon in my nutrition plan:
- Proper Food Choices
For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. It's available for free, and is perhaps one of the most comprehensive and all-inclusive guides on a healthy lifestyle out there. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods that come from healthy, sustainable, local sources.
For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw. Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose. Sugar, and fructose in particular, can act as a toxin in and of itself when consumed in excess, and as such drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging and virtually all chronic disease.
- Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise
Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. I've discussed the importance of Peak Fitness for your health on numerous occasions, so for more information, please review this previous article.
- Stress Reduction and Positive Thinking
You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. Meditation, prayer, energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique, social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
- Optimize Vitamin D with Proper Sun Exposure
We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure during times when UVB rays are present. Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing numerous illnesses ranging from cancer to the flu.
The important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level, which should ideally be between 50-70 ng/ml year-round. Sun exposure or a safe tanning bed is the preferred method for optimizing vitamin D levels, but a vitamin D3 supplement can be used as a last resort. Most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day to achieve serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is still just below the minimum recommended serum level of 50 ng/ml.
- High Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
Animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil is a strong factor in helping people live longer, and many experts believe that it is likely the predominant reason why the Japanese are the longest lived race on the planet.
- Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible
This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.