Good Health: the missing ingredient in the Health Care Debate

Here’s a short article worth reading, and another one here, about what’s missing in the health care debate: Health. Drs. Andrew Weil and Ornish are both trying to raise the issue of preventive care and health…er…CARE as part of the medical industry’s core responsibilities.

As it stands, Ornish reasons, is we’re funding an industry that seeks out, treats, and only sees Disease. No prevention, no common sense about balanced diet, good food and exercise, the two easiest ways to maintain good health. Disease and its myriad high priced and questionable treatments.

Several years ago I decided to pretty much swear off doctors and the medical industry because it had so completely duped me about my own health. I wasn’t exercising nearly enough, I had put on weight and didn’t feel so good, and I had anxiety about a lot of things. The doctors I saw over the course of a couple of years increased the number and kinds of pills I would “have to be on” for the rest of my life. No one, not one doctor or nurse, suggested I ramp up my exercise, seek out forms of mind therapy like yoga or meditation, and that I cut out the pretty hefty amount of sugar I was ingesting.

Not one.

I decided for myself that I didn’t want to be taking pills so I started down a path of my own discovery. It required a lot of me. A lot of changes, a lot of refusal to give up. And an enormous amount of going against the grain. I’m not at all smugly suggesting that everyone should do what I do, but I am suggesting that people should view the medical industry as AN INDUSTRY. Much like car companies, cereal makers, record labels, and shoe manufacturers, the Medical Industry wants you to take pills and get treatment. It’s their business, after all.

Hence my deep appreciation for Ornish’s article this morning:

If we just cover bypass surgery, angioplasty, stents, and other interventions that are dangerous, invasive, expensive, and largely ineffective on 48 million more people, then costs are likely to increase significantly at a time when resources are limited. As a result, painful choices are being discussed — rationing, raising taxes, and/or increasing the deficit — and these are threatening the public acceptance and thus the viability of health reform.

what’s missing, tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what’s even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn’t fulfill its prime directive — it does not help people become or stay healthy. It’s not a health care system at all; it’s a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly…

I say an overhaul should be just that: an overhaul. A huge, eye-opening discussion of just what the heck “health care” has become in our corporate culture. In the meantime, eat right, exercise and find a little joy today. It works wonders.

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3 responses to “Good Health: the missing ingredient in the Health Care Debate

  1. Awesome post. Like so many other aspects of our system, we seem to be consuming medicine instead of sustaining our health.

    I love your personal narrative. True it won’t work for everyone, but you chose the path of resistance and self definition and you’ve been well rewarded by those choices.

  2. I’ve been a little confused over the (justified, understandable) intense focus on insurance along with what seems like a tacit agreement to not worry about actual health.

    Personally, I get anxiety problems sometimes, and I notice that a good bike ride does a lot more to get rid of them than valium ever has.

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