By Sara Nelson, PT, DPT
We have all felt the pinch of growing insurance premium and copay/coinsurance. If you have tried to get help for a medical condition recently, you may have noticed increasing red-tape to try to get an appointment. Despite attempts to cut expenses, the per capital cost of health care in the US has reached $10000 per person. Other first world nations are spending far less and still living longer than we do. Health care expenditure in the US is 17% of the GNP. Clearly something is amiss. This is a complex problem that can’t be fully addressed in this article. Blaming the Affordable Care Act is over simplification. To begin to understand the problem, get to know the players and the roles they play.
The medical system. The practice of medicine has pressure from different directions. Some of the changes and costs come from the risk of law suits. Care is provided to reduce the risk of legal action. In addition, attempts to streamline care to be more efficient has taken away from the personal relationship of the doctor and patient.
Insurance companies. These groups are trying to remain profitable by requiring more information up front before they will pay. This means longer wait times to make an appointment, more paperwork to use your insurance benefits, and having this third party in on making decisions on your care.
Big Pharma. We are the only first world nation that allows marketing of pharmaceuticals on television. This has planted a message in all of us that your health problems can be fixed with a pill. These companies have strong lobbies that pressured congress to bar Medicare from negotiate prices on drugs. So we end up paying more.
Big Food. Packaging food so it appeals to our taste buds sells more food. Putting sugar, fat and salt in food will trigger the brain to create more desire for the food. Processed food sells, and has contributed to a disastrous epidemic of obesity and chronic illness.
Public Health Policy refers to community and government initiatives that encourage healthy behaviors, or not. Policies that favor cars over walking and bikes contribute to inactivity and poor health.
You! These may all seem bigger than you but ultimately each individual influences the cost of health by making choices that will keep them as healthy as possible. If we all eat healthy, whole foods, that’s what the stores will sell. If we become more active in our lives, government and business will respond to requests for products and services to make being active easier. If we ask our doctors what we could do to replace medication, they will start talking to us about how to do that. This will bring health care costs down!
By 2025 it’s expected that 49% of the population will have a chronic disease. Many of these would be prevented or diminished in their effect if we all took action to make healthy choices now. You can start today to make a dent in health care costs!