Our politicians are in full force, debating health care…who should be covered and who should pay the bill (private insurance, Medicare-for-all, or a hybrid)? This is a hot topic because health care is expensive. The costs continue to rise and many people don’t have health insurance. But with all the focus on how expensive health care is and who is going to pay for it, no one is talking about the core problem: AMERICANS ARE SICK.
Americans have access to the best doctors and hospitals, the newest drugs, and the most cutting-edge technology available in the world. Still, our nation is the 35th healthiest in the world. As the richest and most powerful country in the world, this ranking is a disgrace.
Cuba placed five spots above the U.S., making it the only nation not classified on the list as “high income” by the World Bank. According to the American Bar Association Health Law, one reason for the island nation’s success may be its emphasis on preventative care over the health care model in the U.S., which focuses on diagnosing and treating illness instead.
Health care costs will continue to rise. We’re also in a new period where, for the first time in history, there are more people over 65 years of age than under 5 years of age. That means that ther are more elderly people and, in America, an aging population equates to more chronic disease, more doctor and hospital visits, more medication use, and more disability. About 50% of the U.S. adult population has either pre-diabetes or diabetes. Half of all Americans have cardiovascular disease. Three out of four adults in America are either overweight or obese. This means more Americans are sick than healthy.
Here’s a statistic for you: The total economic cost of obesity is estimated to be $1.72 Trillion per year. Rather than politicians arguing about who should pay for this health care disaster, the obvious (though ignored) question is: WHY ARE WE SO SICK?
A major part of this answer is right in-front of us: what we are eating and other lifestyle choices! Active lifestyles and exercise are very important, but the most important daily decision has to do with what foods we’re going to eat. If we can get better at making healthier decisions (ie: not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight BMI, minimum 30 minutes of daily activity, limiting alcohol, eating well), this whole conundrum regarding health insurance coverage and who’s going to pay for health care won’t go away, but it will get a lot less messy (healthier people need less health care).
Following are some interesting statistics:
1950 – U.S. spent $12.7 billion on health care (4.4% of GDP)
2015 – U.S. spent $3.2 trillion on healch care (17.8% of GDP)
2025 – health care cost estimated to be 20% of GDP
1970 – U.S. ranked 15th in healthy nations
2015 – U.S. ranked 33rd in healthy nations
2019 – U.S. ranked 35th in healthy nations
1983 – $17 billion spent on prescription drugs in the U.S.
2000 – $76 billion spent on prescription drugs in the U.S.
2015 – $425 billion spent on prescription drugs in the U.S.