Something I read recently posed questions about type, quality, and efficacy of health care systems.
As someone interested in this subject from the perspective as a citizen, I care. As someone who has seen ‘the system’ at work in recent years involving treatment of diseases and ailments for my parents, friends, and colleagues – I sit here, fingers metaphorically crossed, that I won’t need to be user of the system, by any label, for a very long time to come.
And yes, that begs the question: what am I doing about making sure I don’t become the system’s next regular customer?
Before I answer that, regarding the differences between ‘health care and sick care’, my answer: Yes, indeed — we have a sickness-model rather than a wellness-model for our society. The points you make are excellent, but I wonder if a change medical school curriculum is the best or quickest way to make an impact?
The diseases you mention which can be ameliorated by better diet and lifestyle are huge costs (for governments, sickness and accident insurance companies, citizens) and huge profit centers (for the life insurance companies, undertakers, diet businesses, fitness businesses, processed food manufacturers, and doctors). My point that I’m getting to, is that change — demonstrative and soon — needs to come from those who can see a short term and medium-term gain. The huge cost centers need to go toe-to-toe with the profit centers… or, appeal directly to we who eat and we who pay.
I know it looks like a chess game about health, but it’s really a chess game about what chess is about: power and money. Follow the money …
Now, back the question of what I am doing about it?
I get an annual physical at least once every two years – which is my way of staying ‘on top of things reasonably’ and keeping the costs down. Invariably the tests the flow from that – blood, urine, PSA – prove nothing of consequence. I think going in once every two years is reasonable. I also believe, if ill feelings, symptoms, or pain shows up – time to see someone. My understanding is that most people wait too long. I don’t. My understanding is that most people go first to their doctor, or at least they used to, but it seems now most people go to Google. They consult WebMD and other sources. This is good and bad. Good to be informed. Bad to self-diagnose. My physician told me, “Mark, your Google search does not trump my medical degree.” Yes, I agree.
But, if my body hurts, shouldn’t I first consult a massage therapist, a chiropractor, a seller of supplements? I’m kidding, and I’m not. I think intelligent people can gather information and make choices – including stupid choices, but let’s save the stupid part of that discussion for another day.
Reasonable people should listen to their body before gossipy nosy friends, should listen to science before they buy a product or remedy that showed up in their search feed or on late night TV. Health care, or sickness care, should not require a credit card and a 1-800 number.
If you are sick, go to a doctor. If you are sicker than that, in pain, in fear … then go to an emergency room.
If you are not that sick, not in much pain – I think it is reasonable to self-ask some questions about diet, sleep, activities which might have caused the ache/pain or limited ability to function.
I’m not suggesting a banana and some extra glasses of water is a cure for 24-hr. kidney cancer, but a lot of what we do is self-caused and can be self-fixed, can’t it?
Should I run to the doctor, or to the pharmacy, for a remedy when eating more vegetables and drinking more water might do the trick?
We live in a free country with extraordinarily high quality health care/sickness care, which is also high-cost care; which is not to denigrate anyone who earns highly from their profession or makes a profit from the sale of their products or services – because I am so glad they are there, standing by and available to help me if and when I need them …
The more important question, I think, is whether or not we as individuals are taking sufficient steps to take good care of ourselves? Are we promoting our own good health, our own well-being, our own heathy bodies? In other words, we have a great health-safety-net, and we rely on it. Would we be living our lives more carefully, in a healthier way, if that safety net was not there?
If we don’t have affordable health care, do we take the same risks to our health and safety that we would knowing we do have that care?
Most of us, thankfully, would not consider driving our vehicle without insurance – that’s just common sense. That has to do with costs, not accidents. We drive carefully to avoid accidents of injury – and that is a separate decision from costs. I wonder, when we eat food we know isn’t good for us, when we choose not to be physically active or exercise, or when we short-change ourselves on the value of sleep – are we making more careless decisions than we would about driving our car?
I look forward to your "books" when they are on the shelves to purchase. The best type of book to read is in my opinion is when you know the Author and you know the struggles it took to get the book written and published. To me those are the best books to read and to display in your Library. I can't wait. Happy Writing!, MJ, Calgary, AB