How YOU Can Be Your Best Insurance Policy – Part I
However you define health care, there is no denying it’s costing all of us dearly. In fact, coupled with the economic crisis we are currently facing, the healthcare implications for the future may be like nothing we’ve seen before.
How did we get here? For decades, we’ve been convinced by established healthcare institutions that our health is totally dependent on expensive hospital care, medical procedures and costly pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, these treatments have led many Americans to bury themselves in debt… It’s only later that they realize their medical “treatments” did little more than temporarily relieve their symptoms.
The downfall of modern medicine is that it often fails to address the actual underlying cause of a patient’s sickness.
Adding further to this problem, big business and the media use terms “healthy,” “all natural” and “good for you” in misleading ways to pitch their latest products, fad diets, processed foods and all the subsequent stories about them. With a public bombarded with misleading information and advertising from all sides, it’s no wonder we have a health crisis and obesity epidemic on our hands.
How to Cope with Spiraling Premium Costs
This is not to minimize, however, that all Americans are in need of an insurance policy, especially in the case of catastrophic illness or injury. Sadly, there are still an estimated 50 million Americans who remain uninsured and more than 75 percent of them are working families. There are countless examples of what can happen to families without insurance coverage. In 2007, more than half of all personal bankruptcies were due to medical expenses. The majority of them were middle-class, well-educated folks who owned their homes.
So as we wait for state and national governments and health care institutions to change policies, rework budgets and create legislation to solve these problems, is there anything WE can do on an individual basis? The answer is YES! When finances are limited, it becomes even more important to use our health resources wisely and efficiently. One way of doing this is to treat conditions in gentler, more natural ways that can often be handled at home, instead of in an expensive clinic. As a Naturopath, I believe strongly in this philosophy. By shifting our focus to preventing disease and relearning the skill of self-help wherever possible, we can improve and protect our health before our immune system weakens and illness strikes.
World Health Organization representative Dr. Michael O’Carroll puts it this way: “WE INHERITED a health-care system based on a medical approach to health. If you are sick, you go to a doctor. Forget about the fact that you drank two bottles of whiskey. Forget that you never exercise. You see the doctor and say: ‘Doctor, cure me.’ Then the doctor puts something in your mouth, puts something in your arm, cuts something off, or puts something on. Now, I am speaking grossly here, as you will understand, just to get the point across, but this kind of medical approach has prevailed. We have wrongfully medicalized society’s problems. Suicide, malnutrition, and drug abuse have become medical problems. But they are not. They are not even health problems. They are social problems with health and medical consequences.
“Then, over the last 20 years, people said, ‘Hey, slow down. We’re doing things the wrong way. We need to redefine what health is all about.’ Some principles underlying the primary-health-care approach developed, such as: ‘It is more humane and more cost-effective in the long run to prevent disease than to treat it.’ It is, for example, against this principle to build a clinic to deal with open-heart surgery when you do nothing about the causes. That does not mean that you do not treat diseases if they occur. Of course you do. If you have a hole in the street that is causing accidents every day of the week, you will treat the poor fellow who falls and breaks his legs, but the more humane and cost-effective thing to do is: Fill the hole.”
As trained Naturopaths, we are trained to look at the root cause of an illness/disease. By treating the whole person –- their lifestyle, habits and health concerns together –- we work with patients to better understand and stimulate the healing power of their human bodies, instead of treating them like machines made up of separate parts. Getting to the root cause of disease is much like filling a hole in the street. Carefully selecting appropriate natural therapies, and not costly and harmful prescription drugs, has helped many of my clients experience tremendous benefits, even those with chronic and long-standing illnesses.
The Hidden Costs of Our Health Care System
By the year 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently forecasted healthcare spending will consume nearly 20 percent of our total economy. Above and beyond the economics, the human cost of our health care issues is undeniably the gravest one. From 2000-06, an estimated 137,000 Americans died because they could not afford the high premiums of health insurance.
Why does health care cost so much? A recent study published in Health Affairs revealed that red tape in our health care system makes it a much less efficient one than our neighboring nations. With countless variations in billing and submissions, the paperwork associated with our health care system in dealing with insurance companies means that doctors are spending more time filling out forms and less time on health issues and treating their patients. All that extra paperwork has contributed to an extra $27 billion spent on health care bureaucracy costs annually.
Instead of depending on their insurance policy and an over-burdened healthcare system facing enormous challenges, many of my clients have asked me to create a personalized health promotion strategy. Taking a more active role in your health does not have to break the bank and, trust me, you won’t be gambling with your health. On the contrary, YOU will finally be in control of your health!
Be sure to read Part II of How YOU Can Be Your Best Insurance Policy for more helpful ideas!