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Comparing Healthcare vs. Sick Care for Disease Prevention

My intention with this article is to provide informative views of considerable social and economic impact to enlighten you with its concern.

Health education is lacking among patients. As a result, they only reach out to doctors when they are sick.

Health education is lacking among patients. As a result, they only reach out to doctors when they are sick.

Sick Care vs. Healthcare

Our healthcare system mainly concentrates on treating illness (sick care), but disease prevention for improved health and wellness is essential and scarce among physicians.

Treatments to cure illnesses are more costly and time-consuming. That is why the cost of health insurance keeps increasing. A better method would be a focus on the prevention of disease (healthcare).

I’ll review the following concerns:

  • Lack of health education
  • Denying reasons for sickness
  • Reasons for the lack of prevention
  • Out of control drug prices
  • Transforming sick care to healthcare
  • The value of disease prevention

Lack of Health Education in Our Schools

Health management is not taught in our schools. As a result, people grow up without knowing how to take care of themselves and lead healthy lives. Doctors should offer patients some form of health education instead of merely treating illnesses after they occur.

I notice some people make themselves sick with the way they live. Then they go to doctors to treat their problems with medications that sometimes have worse side effects. Unfortunately, I don’t see much effort in trying to figure out what is causing their problems in the first place.

The answers exist. I know because I read health-related journals and trustworthy medical websites where I learn how to lead a healthy life. Anyone can take the time to educate themselves for their own welfare.

I notice several issues:

  1. The healthcare system is not focused on prevention as much as it should be.
  2. Some people are in denial about their health and think they are prone to being unhealthy.
  3. Many people don’t know that some diseases are avoidable.
  4. Some medications are costly because the pharmaceutical industry is mostly unregulated.

Denying Reasons for Sickness

Denial causes people to avoid doing what’s right. I once told a friend he would get cancer because he always ate carcinogens. He liked to barbeque his means every day. He was in denial and continued to do this until he developed colon cancer and needed to have a portion of his colon removed.

The problem is not always the patient’s fault. The healthcare system is messed up. It rewards doctors for doing procedures, not for teaching patients how to live longer. It is totally up to us to educate ourselves.

Doctors get paid for performing services, not for helping patients get healthy. I had an interesting discussion with my doctor once about this.

I’ll tell you this brief story:

After I started eating more vegetarian dishes, my cholesterol and triglycerides came down tremendously. My doctor said it must be due to my changed diet. I asked him why he doesn’t tell his patients to eat that way when they need to improve their blood counts.

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His frustration was evident when he answered, “Because they don’t listen. They find it too difficult and would rather just have me prescribe a medication.”

I was shocked to hear his reasoning. I realized the insurance companies have to pay for this. That’s why the premiums keep going higher.

Reasons for the Lack of Prevention

A doctor can make $1500 for surgery to add a stent if a patient has a heart attack.

If the same doctor takes 45 minutes to discuss with the patient how to get healthy so they can avoid future heart attacks, that doctor may get paid only $15 for the service.1

According to the Institute of Medicine, a 2011 study showed that 30% of healthcare spending is wasted and does not improve health. This is roughly $750 billion annually.2

Bypass surgery just solves the immediate problem. Future costs for more operations will most likely occur, raising the cost of insurance even further.

If patients are not educated on the proper lifestyle to avoid heart attacks, they will most likely end up with more stents or bypass surgeries—until they die.

Healthy lifestyle methods should be discussed to avoid the hospital.

Healthy lifestyle methods should be discussed to avoid the hospital.

Out of Control Drug Prices

Most health insurance includes coverage for medications prescribed by a doctor, usually with a deductible. Medicare Part D also pays for prescribed medications. However, they are divided into tier groups. Tiers 1 and 2 typically have zero or low co-pays, while drugs in the higher groups can end up costing thousands of dollars.

The influence of the pharmaceutical lobbyists caused the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to leave the pharmaceutical industry unregulated. That left Medicare powerless to negotiate for better drug prices.3

I wonder if many of these costs can be avoided altogether, especially if patients take the time to read up on the side effects and ask questions about alternatives.

I love to do my own research. So whenever I experience something strange happening after starting a new medication prescribed for an ailment, I study the data on the drug to determine if it might be the cause of it.

I often discover that many of my problems were a result of medication side effects. How many patients actually do research in this manner? They expect their doctor is taking proper care of them.

In my experience, I see that doctors don’t have time to do their own research. They’d rather just trust the pharmaceutical companies. In addition, they have no knowledge of the costs to the patient.

Transforming Sick Care to Healthcare

Patients can make productive efforts to improve their health.

  • It’s important to discuss health issues with your doctor.
  • Never take things for granted.
  • Discuss side effects with your doctor about prescriptions.
  • And always ask if healthier alternatives are possible.

The Preventive Medicine Research Institute did a survey that found heart disease is reversible. Blockages in arteries clear up when one changes their lifestyle and eats heart-healthy foods.4

I once spoke with someone I met at a party who had a triple bypass. She said she would soon need another. I asked her if she knew about the research that found how a plant-based diet could help reverse heart disease. She said it is too difficult for her to avoid red meat and delicious fatty foods. I was stunned that she would rather go under the knife. Unfortunately, there are many people like that.

Takeaway: The Value of Disease Prevention

Leading a healthy life is more enjoyable when you focus on healthcare before you need a cure for a grueling illness. Then, more time can be spent having a pleasurable life rather than demanding treatment when you're sick.

Of course, there is the possibility that one will succumb to a genetic disease that is prone to occur because of an inherited gene. Nevertheless, many people can be healthier than they presently are. It just takes the willingness to learn how to lead a healthy life and put it into action.

References

  1. Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare | Wikipedia
  2. Annie Lowrey. (October 11, 2012). "Study of U.S. Health Care System Finds Both Waste and Opportunity to Improve." The New York Times
  3. Caitlin Owens, (March 24, 2016). "Why Prescription Drugs Aren’t Part of Obamacare." Morning Consult.
  4. "The right plant-based diet for you." (January 2018). Harvard Medical School Health Publishing

© 2017 Glenn Stok

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