Americans now spend over $1.5 trillion annually on medical care. There is no end in sight to rising costs. From the medical community’s standpoint, why should there be? If you have a cash cow you milk it for all it is worth.
The public’s and the government’s only protestation is when there isn’t enough money. The question is not whether we need more drugs, vaccines, diagnostic machines, lab tests, surgeries and hospital facilities, but rather how will it be paid for. The medical behemoth is considered as essential to life as food and water and thus it is petted, pampered and protected. While it gorges itself and swells to obscene size, everyone clamors for unlimited access to it by way of insurance and government entitlement programs.
Now then, if the medical system we have in place were truly decreasing disease, optimizing people’s health, increasing healthy life span and decreasing mortality that would be one thing. But as we have learned from the foregoing, that is not at all the case. Modern medical care does not prevent disease or improve health; it is the number one killer. Medical consumers are lambs being led to the slaughter. They protect, cuddle, honor and take pride in its techno-wizardry, and then wonder why it is getting so rotund as they feed it by marching zombie-like right into its mouth.
The gorging and human sacrifice is ignored because it is assumed that the esoteric scientific sophistication, shiny stainless steel and elaborate machines are the best there is and if it is failing in any respect then it just needs more dollar–to do what it is doing but only more and better. Isolated heroic successes lead everyone to believe everything is surely on track and that all it will take is more dollars and everyone’s cure will be a heroic success.
Time to step back, take a deep breath and oxygenate the brain a little.
What does it say about our society when a huge percentage of the gross national product is centered on illness? Shouldn’t it ring an alarm – other than the cry to increase taxes and create medical entitlement programs and insurance to guarantee that everyone can participate even more and grow it even further?
You would think that with all the money thrown at the problem, health would be improving. But it is not, in spite of the propaganda that health solutions are in a pill, on a surgery table or just around the corner … if we would just fund more research. Doesn’t the outrageous growth of medical expenditure in the absence of proportionate salubrious results speak to the failure of the system, not its success? Shouldn’t health care, by definition, be moving in the opposite direction and be self-eradicating?
When something is so clearly amuck, it’s time to take a close look at the philosophical underpinnings and assumptions. The underlying premise of modern medicine is reductionistic materialism. However, the body is not only fundamentally not matter, it is all one, it is holistic and intimately linked with the rest of the world. The materialistic assumption that we are a mere amalgam of data, parts and pieces that can be manipulated at will, and a chemical soup held in by a membrane–a sort of test tube made of skin–is neither scientific nor rational…nor does it work.
Materialism also leads to the quick-fix approach. Hey, if a chemical in the body is out of whack, take a chemical to neutralize it. If your gizzard is acting up, get it taken out. If the medicine you are taking is making you sick, take another medicine for that. If eating fries and pop cause a burning in the gullet, take a pill. People want to think of their bodies as an easily repaired machine, and doctors go right along.
The quick-fix approach fills the bill for an instant-gratification society. It is also simple, profitable and eliminates probing into people’s lives to see what is really the cause: run a test, check a number, give a pill and send a bill. But is counter to the way the body operates. We are a self-healing mechanism, infinitely complex, finely tuned and holistic, not just an assemblage of pulleys, pipes, levers, protons and valves. To force the body into submission with drugs or mechanical alterations throws it out of balance because we do not fully understand what it is we are even tinkering with. Manipulating parts without consideration for the balance of the whole is doomed.
I am speaking here of the chronic degenerative illnesses – cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and so on, not crises such as anaphylactic shock or an operable tumor pressing on the heart. Modern medicine can work miracles with these sorts of conditions because they are mechanical – as opposed to metabolic and systemic – failures and thus respond to mechanical solutions. The great degenerative disease killers today result from longstanding problems of lifestyle imbalance and are not solved by Band-Aids no matter how expensive they are.
People who spend years in esoteric and costly medical training don’t figure anyone other than them has a right to speak with authority on the subject. That creates pompous and closed minds. Health and healing is not the place for that. Lives and suffering are at stake. This is not to impugn the efforts of the many hard working and often underpaid health care workers. But intent does not erase result. As shown in a previous chapter, people who submit to medical care are far more likely to be injured or killed than by any other life choice they make. It must also be admitted that financial motive and ego to one degree or another weave their way into the medical psyche.
Most doctors come to understand that disease is self-inflicted through improper lifestyle choices. Few, however, have the financial courage to tell people that they need to change their lives, not get another pill or have surgery. Patients will just go elsewhere where they will be told what they want to hear. Or the doctor might even be threatened with suit for offending a patient. Case in point is a New Hampshire doctor who was turned in to the Board of Medicine and the attorney general for telling a patient she needed to lose weight. (Washington Post Aug 24, 2005)
As hard as doctors try to do what is right, there is the constant financial pressure. There are bills to pay and the potential for a lavish lifestyle. Doctors also feel entitled. A long and costly education, long hours, law suits, malpractice insurance and putting up with an endless procession of patients who will do nothing to help themselves seems deserving of more than average pay. The solution is doing more. Conveniently, the medical standard of care (what doctors are taught to do to avoid liability) encourages more of about everything. More lab tests, longer hospitalization, more diagnostics, more drugs and exploratory surgery. So, although in many cases the best advice to a patient is to go home and make life changes, doctors too often do that which is safe and creates income, which just so happens to be what the patient wants anyway.
Medical insurance is not the solution. It shares the blame for the explosion in healthcare costs. Give anyone access to a bottomless vat of money that promises cure and they will dip in with gusto. If patients were made to pay as they go, people would do more shopping and use more discernment. Doctors would be forced to use judgment as well. The net result would be a lot less unnecessary medical care. When responsibility shifts to individuals to take care of themselves, there will be more health and a lot less medical injury.
Since everything seems to move by the force of dollars, why not shift the rewards? We could do it like it was done in ancient times and even more recently in the Far East: Pay doctors as long as the patient is well. If the patient becomes ill, the doctor forfeits the pay. But that’s too rational. There are too many money interests fighting tooth and claw to keep things exactly as they are. It also does not fit the fable that disease is “just one of those things” to which we may innocently fall victim. Why hold the doctor (or ourselves, more appropriately) accountable for an “act of God?”
As philosophically flawed as modern medicine is, it is by and large an effect, not a cause. Medical commerce is driven by consumer demand. If the market were not there, the business of increased profit for increased health failure could not exist.
People like to shift responsibility to others and follow physics down the path of least resistance and effort. Heaven forbid that we might have to change our lifestyle or become informed. Let’s just let someone else take care of everything for us. All it takes is money. You know, like if the basement is leaking, the car won’t start or smoke comes out of the computer. Money cures these things so why would it not cure us? So it is easily reasoned in our consumer/repair/expert-oriented society, that if any problem is not being solved, more money is the answer.
Don’t wait for things to change. You change. You can decide not to participate in the nonsense. You can learn to take control and optimize your health by being the best you can be by giving your mind and body the lifestyle and food it was designed for. Money really has nothing to do with the solution to the problem. In fact, money can spell your demise by not only the unhealthy lifestyle of indulgence it permits, but by making it too easy to obtain the best and most that modern medicine has to offer.
If people would learn how to take care of themselves and take ownership of their own health, the medical sinkhole would shrivel and the tidal wave of chronic degenerative diseases would dry up to a trickle.