Most of the Congressional debate for health care reform centers around ways to extend repayment for sick care. However, paying for more of the same fragmented, costly care isn’t reform, it’s madness.
The $2. 2 trillion health care system, the priciest in the world, requires a new top-to-bottom vision, and although the 600 doctors and medical researchers gathered at the Institute of Medicine’s Peak on Integrative Medicine last month didn’t Health Care Grad acknowledge everything, they reached a resounding total about the need for Americans to change their health habits. Yet how can that best be accomplished?
With a primary shift toward health promotion, disease prevention and wellness, a revamped health care system could put the brakes on the disastrous velocity expected for 2012, in which total health care costs would equal 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Providers, employers, and even insurance companies finally agree that the US would fall behind the world’s nations in every possible sector if one out of every dollar individuals productivity went toward health care costs.
For over 30 years, the National Wellness Institute has been revealing that 8 out of 10 Americans suffer from chronic ailments derived from unhealthy lifestyles: poor diet, inadequate physical activity and unmanaged stress. Yet the trial of behavior change has always decreased on individuals, without much support from the medical system or their doctors.
In addition, cultural support has been lacking for the most at-risk populations, often minorities with higher rates of diabetes and obesity. At present, there are more obese Americans than overweight ones-an almost unspeakable fact.
Cultural support for healthy lifestyles starts with community activists demanding bike paths, public parks, safe streets, farmers’ markets, fresh food options and more from their local governments. Together with cooperation from industry, government, health care, and public health officials, pressure can be placed on developers to build environments that include opportunities for physical activity. Teachers, parents and consumers can demand that Big Food stop advertising cheap, non-nutritious, calorie-dense, processed foods to kids and 16 and up. Schools can offer nutrition and PE classes again, and lunch programs can teach kids about healthy choices-and provide them!
Should your M . D . Get paid to educate Wellness?
“Lose weight, give up smoking, start exercising, and minimize your stress-and I’ll see you next year for your physical. inches Everybody knows that the once-a-year admonition from your doctor rarely translates into new health habits.
A new rate of health coaches can supply the support and inspiration needed for Americans to begin their journey towards increasing personal health. Health coaches should engage in every public clinic, medical office and hospital wellness center. They should be reimbursed by insurance companies, or engage in the first-access rate of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance companies and corporate wellness programs. Even Medical professional. Mehmet Oz suggested that health coaches should be considered a central part of health care reform to CNN’s medical reporter Medical professional. Sanjay Gupta.
Instead of medical doctors expecting to be reimbursed for providing health promotion and wellness services (at rates outperforming $200/ hour), health coaches could easily provide this service at one-fifth the cost. They would also present a more friendly, accessible, peer-support approach to individuals. The specialized training of medical doctors is best directed to complex cases, whether extreme or chronic.
The entire continuum of care needs to be re-examined and opened up to include repayment for medical researchers that investigate the foundational causes of chronic illness, and who understand and have specialized skills in countering the ill effects of unhealthy lifestyles-professionals such as Nurse Practitioners, Holistic Doctors, and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, Homeopathic doctors, and Chiropractor.
For too long, there is an active collusion barring the advancement of these professions by certain medical organizations with insurance companies, and the public has suffered as a result.
When these allied medical researchers speech up, demanding introduction at the repayment table at the Peak on Integrative Medicine, a few medical doctors such as Dean Ornish, M . D ., championed this democratizing of the medical landscape, but others kept requiring that their own practices could accomplish wellness services, anxieties we were holding properly reimbursed.
However, repayment for lifestyle counseling should not have to have the major expense encountered by medical doctors, including their clinical offices, costly tuition loans, high-tech equipment, numerous staff and invoicing clerks.
It’s been said that the US health care system is neither healthy nor much of a system. I believe it’s always darkest before the daybreak of a new era, and these dark days of an ailing system must mean the light is about to break over the horizon.
Bringing health coaches into the US health care system can address the colossal “elephant in the middle of the room”-that the duty of disease and related health costs can be dramatically lowered through healthy behaviour change. Finding out move more, eat well and less, and de-stress often, is not only a prescription for a better life, it’s an Rx for us health care reform.