4 Principles Every Wise Healthcare Consumer Knows

February is National Wise Healthcare Consumer Month. No, I refuse to talk about the new Affordable Care Act because I could probably count on one hand the number of people who actually understand what the bill says and what its future implications will be. Instead, I would like to share the FOUR principles that every wise consumer must understand about healthcare.

1. Emergency Intervention vs Health Promotion

One of the biggest misnomers in our society is the labeling of our healthcare system as “health care.” The current system that is in place does not focus on staying healthy, but rather on what to do when we get sick (read sick to mean anything as minor as the flu all the way to cancer and any illness or malady in between). In 2010, the U.S. spent over 2.3 trillion dollars on “healthcare” and we continually spend more than any other country in the world. It then stands to reason that we, as a country, should be the healthiest – most dollars spent on our health, right? Sadly, that is not the case. The Bloomberg study ranks the U.S. at number 33 (other studies feature similar standings). The truth is the majority of our “healthcare” dollars (over 90%) are not spent to keep us healthy, but to try to make us less sick.

There are actually two distinct types of care: emergency intervention and health promotion. There is a very clear difference between the two. One is reactive and happens after an incident occurs, while the other is proactive and helps to prevent sickness and promote optimal health and healing. Now certainly both paradigms are necessary for our society to function (emergency intervention is exactly what I want if I’m in a car accident or break a bone). However, when the majority of our “healthcare” dollars are spent in the emergency care arena, it is only logical that we will create more dysfunction and disease, rather than a healthy population.

To understand these paradigms further, let’s compare two properties on the same street, one with a security system and the other without. One day a couple of thieves decide to burglarize the two houses. Upon entering the house without a security system, they were able to steal and damage thousands of dollars worth of property. Even if the owner has the best insurance available, it is still going to take hours of paperwork, phone conversations, scheduling and lots of money to restore the property to its original state. When the burglars try to enter the property with a security system, they immediately flee the scene because of the alarm that scares them away. Other than minor damage to a door or window, everything else remains unscathed because this property was prepared.

In the second example, because the owner invested in the security of his home, it will take far less time, money, and energy to overcome the attempted burglary. This is exactly what I am referring to when I talk about health promotion. Taking the time to invest in your health by exercising, eating organic fruits and vegetables, consuming high quality food supplements, mediating/praying/journaling, receiving massage, and of course regular chiropractic adjustments are all minimal upfront investments to promote your health. However, the majority of our “health care” dollars wait until the emergency (i.e. high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart attack, obesity) before investing anything towards health promotion. At this time, it will take far more time, money, and energy to recover from that emergency than if you had been investing in your health throughout your life. In the words of a good friend, “Do not wait until it’s too late!”

2. Early Detection vs. Prevention

Under the misnomer of “healthcare,” the average consumer has been misled. They are told (and made to believe) that they have great “health” insurance because of the many “wellness” checkups covered or the extensive “preventative” care included in their plan. A wise health care consumer understands that getting a “wellness” checkup has nothing to do with preventing a specific disease or condition.

Let’s use breast cancer screenings as an example. If a woman has been seeing her gynecologist to receive a mammogram once a year from the time she is 40 years old (the current guidelines from ACOG) and at age 52 her mammogram shows a stage 2 carcinoma, what has been prevented? As a wise health care consumer, you should be saying nothing has been prevented. However, many “healthcare” insurance plans use these “prevention” screenings as a selling point to consumers. Early detection is not and never will be the same thing as prevention.

(I already hear the arguments mounting, “Isn’t it a good thing that her stage 2 cancer was found at stage 2 and not stage 3 or 4?” My answer to that is, maybe. Right now the standard of care for a diagnosed cancer patient is chemotherapy and radiation in some combination. Although the technology continues to improve, the fundamental theory behind these cancer treatment methods, at least in my humble opinion, is to kill all the cells, healthy and sick, and pray that the healthy cells win out.)

What would true prevention coverage look like? Insurance plans covering gym memberships, and offering discounts for purchases of organic fruits and vegetables. Programs offering wellness care for individuals to maintain their health before they lose it. Making incentives available for healthy lifestyle choices that are known to prevent or limit the risk of certain diseases that our current system spends large chunks of healthcare dollars on. Offering proactive approach to disease by taking away the environment that sickness thrives in and promoting a healthy alternative; that is prevention.

Information gained from an early detection screening is only useful when that information is applied appropriately. What good is an earlier diagnosis of high blood pressure, if the only answer is taking medication for the rest of your life? Based on personal testimonies from family and patients, I am not convinced that these early detection screenings, sold as “preventative healthcare,” are all they are cracked up to be. Know the difference and know find out how to truly prevent the emergencies as mentioned above.

3. Less is More

Anytime it comes to a health decisions, it is in my strong opinion that the less intervention, the better. If health practitioners truly believe and respect the foundational principle that life has the capacity to heal, than respecting and facilitating that healing ability with the least amount of intervention should be a top priority.

Let’s use an hour glass as an example. If the sand in the hour glass represents your healing potential, then you are at your optimum healing ability when the sand is at the top of the hour glass and set in motion. How do we get the sand to the top of the hour glass? There are three different options:

Option 1: We can use artificial sand (representing medication) and pour it into the top of the hour glass. This would trick your body into a false sense of healing and you may even feel better for a little while, but eventually as you continue to add more artificial sand, the bottom will completely fill up and put a halt to your healing.

Option 2: We drill a hole and suck out the sand and then pour the sand into the top of the hour glass (representing surgery). But now, as the sand returns to the bottom and you begin to heal, some of your healing capacity is lost through the drilled hole. Not to mention, you are right back where you started with the sand in the bottom of the glass.

Option 3: Simply flip the hour glass (representing a lifestyle adjustment, such as a chiropractic adjustment to the spine, massage, nutritional changes, exercise, etc.). This is the simplest and least invasive option. Yes, you must continue to make those adjustments throughout your life, but those minimally invasive lifestyle adjustments will set and maintain your healing potential in motion to keep you well and avoid the more invasive options 1 and 2.

4. Good for One, Good For All

Your family may have a recipe for spaghetti or perogies (I know, my heritage is showing) that has been passed down for generations. Similarly, Mother Nature has passed down THE recipe for health, generation to generation, for all living things. Every generation may add their own twist to the ingredients or directions, but the foundation of the recipe is always present for optimum satiety.

As humanity progresses through time, different expressions of health emerge. However, the foundation is always the same. The truth is over 95% of the population could attain and maintain their health if they would simply adhere to the three foundations listed below: Mother Nature’s Recipe for Health. The best part – this recipe is not unique to any individual, but is a part of our intelligent human design (Good for one, Good for all!)

• Motion => Motion is life. From the microscopic vibrations of individual molecules that make up our cells to the macroscopic movement of our muscles, life requires motion. More commonly known today as exercise or physical activity. Go find a program, routine, or sport that sets your body in motion for at least 30 minutes every day.

• Nutrition => We are what we consume and assimilate. Our cells die and regenerate every single moment of our lives. The raw materials to build our new cells, tissues, and organs come from our diets. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, and lean meats will ensure our bodies are getting the raw materials to build healthy cells. If you wish to eat processed food, do so sparingly – it is the equivalent of building your house with the cheapest cement as your foundation. When in doubt, eat from the Earth. Kick the cans, boxes, and bagged food.

• Connection => We are creatures of community. Connectedness is as much a part of health and life as breathing. There three planes of connection; Spiritual (our connection to a Higher Order and/or purpose through prayer and meditation), Fraternal (our connection to one another as humans through our relationships), and Internal (our connection within our bodies coordinated through our central nervous system). Our ability to connect on these three planes is an essential ingredient to Mother Nature’s health recipe. Just like a cell phone needs a good satellite connection for proper function, we need these connections for health.

So if we have the recipe for health, why are we so sick? For starters, the majority of “healthcare” dollars are spent in a pharmaceutical industry that ignores the existence of Mother Nature’s Health Recipe. Why would they do this? Well, it’s a great business model! Instead of addressing health as a whole body condition, the pharmaceutical industry wants to segregate every disease and condition into an individual problem and then claim to have THE specific medication that is the cure. A medication is designed to do exactly what is says it does on the label, whether it is lowering blood pressure, hiding a headache, or easing an upset stomach. The problem is that Mother Nature’s Recipe is not a linear equation. When you medicate for one condition, there are thousands of reactions within our bodies that are also affected (side effects). For every side effect, there is another medication (and more money spent). It is like dumping a jar of toxic chemicals into your mixing bowl and hoping for the best.

Simply being diagnosed with a particular condition can lead an individual farther from health. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you are presented with two options: medication or lifestyle change. Medication is a “quick fix” that just lowers your blood pressure – it doesn’t ask why your body is lowing your blood pressure to begin with or what the real cause is. It doesn’t “fix” it, it just hides the issue that life style change may correct over time. A wise health care consumer knows that these are two distinct choices – one that leads them closer to health, and one that leads them farther from it. Do not let yourself or your family be characterized by a health challenge. Wise healthcare consumers know better. They know that every choice they make in life is moving them either towards health or towards sickness. Monkey See Healthy, Monkey Do Healthy, Monkey Be Healthy!

These four principles should act as guidelines for how you assess your healthcare choices. There is no perfect plan for guaranteed longevity or vitality; but there are wise choices you can make on a daily basis to increase your chances of health into you golden years. Knowledge is power, and now you know. The true test is what you do with it.

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Take Control of Your Healthcare And Your Future

Today so many of us are so pre-occupied with our daily routine that many people forget the most precious gift we have in life and that is our health. Our physical bodies were given to us at birth at no costs, therefore, we as with most things, if it did not costs us anything, it generally does not get the care it deserves.

Your overall level of fitness and health will determine your course in life and how successful you may become. If for instance you have had good health as you have aged and taken care of yourself, you have had the time and finances to enjoy other things in life.

If you have not taken care of yourself and indulged in habits over the years that are not healthy, then you will pay the price later in life by not being able physically to fulfill some of your dreams, losing a large part of your financial future to obscene healthcare costs and, spending your retirement years, running from one doctor to another.

No one will care more for you then you. Its starts in your own mind. You have to make the decision today that you will be the captain of your ship and have a say in your destiny rather than a US healthcare system that is bloated in bureaucracy, where everything costs double the amount if not more than in other developed countries and, where the outcomes are somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Instead of procrastinating about getting started on developing a leaner and stronger body, or changing your eating habits and losing weight, you need to put your foot down and decide today that you are in charge of your future and not leave it up to someone else.

Your doctor for the most part will give recommendations on how to improve your health but for some, they will not do anything nor can they really say anything to get you to become more involved with your health unless you decide too.

After all, you are a monthly dividend to them coming in for multiple doctor visits around town due to chronic conditions that you could have avoided by taking better care of yourself.

Why pay the doctor when you can pay yourself by eating healthier, starting an exercise program that is aggressive enough that will make some real changes. Too many of us feel that a gentle walk around the block is enough, Though its better than nothing, it will not make much of a difference in your health.

The difference maker will be a strength training program along with cardiovascular exercises and developing a positive can do attitude.

Your mind controls your body and sickly thoughts will result in a sickly body. Think power filled thoughts to overcome procrastination and see and project in your mind how you want to look and feel as you age to beat the ravages of a complacent attitude as you age.

Your ultimate health will be your wealth, pay yourself first each day by maintaining a healthy mind and body.

The French Healthcare System is Universal

How did the French manage to achieve a system that has the advantages that American love but still gives everyone coverage?

The French legislature realized that they would need the cooperation of 2 groups if they were to get the kind of national health insurance they wanted. First they needed the doctors; second they needed the private insurance companies.

French doctors only agreed to participate in a compulsory health insurance program only if

  • A patient’s free choice of their doctors was protected by law
  • Doctor’s maintained control over medical decisions

Next the French legislators overcame insurance industry resistance by permitting the nation’s already existing insurers to administer its new healthcare funds. France’s comprehensive health insurance provides coverage for all or part of the following healthcare categories:

  •   Hospitalization
  •   Non-Hospitalization Benefits
  •   Prescription Drugs & Medical Equipment
  •   Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
  •   Dental & Optical Cover
  •   Emergency Healthcare is provided to everyone

But the Sécurité Sociale’s health insurance plan covers only about 70% of actual medical fees. The balance of the bill is paid for through private insurance called assurance complémentaire.

Private health insurers are central to the system as supplemental insurers who cover patient expenses that are not paid for by Sécurité Sociale. Indeed, nearly 90 percent of the French population possesses such coverage, making France home to a booming private health insurance market.

Working with these 2 groups, France developed a program of universal health care that demonstrates that it is possible to achieve universal coverage without a “single-payer” system.

Why isn’t Washington looking at the French system as a model? The concepts and the execution would be far easier to implement in the U.S. then moving to a Canadian or British system. The end result would be universal healthcare that would effectively marry the desires of both the public and private sector.

Why Our Healthcare System Isn’t Healthy

Most people are well aware that an estimated 45 million Americans currently do not have healthcare, but is the crisis simply the lack of health insurance or even the cost of health insurance? Is there a bigger underlying problem at the root of our healthcare system? Although the U.S. claims to have the most advanced medicine in the world, government health statistics and peer-reviewed journals demonstrate that allopathic medicine often causes more harm than good.

People in general have always felt they could trust doctors and the medical profession, but according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in July 2000, iatrogenic death, also known as death from physician error or death from medical treatment, was the third leading cause of death in America and rising, responsible for at least 250,000 deaths per year. Those statistics are considered conservative by many, as the reported numbers only include in-hospital deaths, not injury or disability, and do not include external iatrogenic deaths such as those resulting from nursing home and other private facility treatments, and adverse effects of prescriptions. One recent study estimated the total unnecessary deaths from iatrogenic causes at approximately 800,000 per year at a cost of $282 billion per year, which would make death from American medicine the leading cause of death in our country.

Currently, at least 2 out of 3 Americans use medications, 32 million Americans are taking three or more medications daily, and commercials and advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs have saturated the marketplace. Although our population is aging, exorbitantly expensive drugs are being marketed and dispensed to younger and younger patients, including many children who years ago would never have been given or needed medication, for everything from ADHD to asthma to bipolar disease and diabetes. Clearly, the state of health in this country is not improving even though there are an increasing number of medications and treatments. Between 2003 and 2010, the number of prescriptions are expected to increase substantially by 47%. In recent years, numerous drugs previously deemed safe by the FDA have been recalled because of their toxicity, after the original drug approvals were actually funded by the invested pharmaceutical companies themselves.

According to the media, thanks to advances in U.S. drugs and medical procedures, Americans are living longer statistically, but they are living longer sicker, with a lower quality of life, and often dependent on multiple expensive synthetic medications that do not cure or address the underlying causes, but only suppress symptoms, often with a plethora of dangerous side effects to the tune of billions of dollars for the drug industry. Considering that the U.S. is supposed to have the most advanced technology in the world and the best health care system, it is at odds that we spend the most on healthcare, yet are the most obese and most afflicted with illness outside of the AIDS epidemic in some third world countries.

Unless you have an acute emergency that requires emergency room care, being admitted to a hospital environment may be more dangerous to your health than staying out. In 2003, epidemiologists reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that hospital-acquired infections have risen steadily in recent decades, with blood and tissue infections known as sepsis almost tripling from 1979 to 2000. Nearly two million patients in the U.S. get an infection while in the hospital each year, and of those patients over 90,000 die per year, up dramatically from just 13,300 in 1992. Statistics show that approximately 56% of the population has been unnecessarily treated, or mistreated, by the medical industry.

Additionally, as a result of the overuse of pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics in our bodies and environment, our immune systems have become significantly weakened, allowing antibiotic-resistant strains of disease-causing bacteria to proliferate, leaving us more susceptible to further disease. Not surprisingly, incidences of diseases have been growing at epidemic levels according to the CDC. Now diseases once thought conquered, such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, and childhood ear infections are much harder to successfully treat than they were decades ago. Drugs do not cure. They only suppress the symptoms that your body needs to express, while they ignore the underlying root cause. Side effects of synthetic and chemical drugs, which even if they are partly derived from nature have been perverted to make them patentable and profitable, are not healthy or natural, and usually cause more harm than any perceived benefit of the medication.

Where “physician errors” are concerned, these may not be entirely the fault of the doctors, as they are forced to operate within the constraints of their profession or risk losing their license, but doctors have become pawns and spokesmen for the drug companies, and the best interest of the patient has become secondary. In the name of profit, physicians are also under great pressure from hospitals to service patients as quickly as possible, like an assembly line, increasing the likelihood of error.

In conclusion, increases in healthcare costs are not just the result of frivolous law suits, but are primarily the result of a profit-oriented industry that encourages practices that lead to unnecessary and harmful procedures being performed, lethal adverse drug reactions, infections, expensive legitimate lawsuits, in-hospital and physician errors, antibiotic resistance due to overprescribing of antibiotics and drugs, and the hundreds of thousands of subsequent unnecessary deaths and injuries. Many people do not realize that there are healthier natural options, and anything unnatural or invasive we are exposed to is likely to cause either immediate or cumulative damage over time.

For more information on how to help your body heal itself naturally without chemicals, information on drug side effects, and harmful disease-causing chemicals in the foods you eat and your environment and how to avoid them, please visit the NatureGem web site at http://www.naturegem.com.