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Paradigm Shift: Personal Health and the U.S. Healthcare System

September 13, 2009

FoodPyramid2I’m inclined to say “I don’t believe in Western medicine.”  That is a strong statement, and may be too general.  In fact, it’s inaccurate because I do believe and laud many of the scientific, technological achievements that Western medicine has pioneered.  Therefore, a more accurate statement is that “I question how beneficial US/Western medicine is and has been to its constituents.”  Today’s raging healthcare debates in the U.S. bring this question to light.

From my point of view, the system, and the philosophical underpinnings of free market healthcare, has been a complete failure.  Here are a few points of evidence to support my opinion:

  • Americans are one of the most out of shape, obese societies in the world.  Some CDC statistics cite rates of over 30% obesity in some states, and alarmingly negative trends amongst U.S. children.
  • American disease, chronic illness and other health problems are also relatively high.
  • We are far too drug-dependent.  What happened to natural living?  Does nature not provide everything we need to live a healthy life?
  • Doctors have little time/motivation, increasingly challenging infrastructure and too much pressure to properly conduct patient care.
  • The whole healthcare system is too expensive.  Is all this technology and advancement really practical or affordable?  How many billions of dollars are paid to insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and bio tech companies, and what is the corresponding benefit to American people and our state of health?  Is there a better approach, grounded in basic tenets of health that we have known about for centuries?  Can and should people wait for government or private solutions to these issues or can we start taking matters into our own hands?
  • Our systems of accreditation, although designed to protect us from fraud and incompetence, also cut out many holistic, non-traditional medicine practitioners who have something different and (in my opinion)  often better to offer.  So that raises the question – is there a way to give people options of working outside the normal insurance framework to get the care that they need?

Now I have not read all of the healthcare reform policy enough to comment on it intelligently.  On the surface, I do believe that President Obama’s goals and general strategy are a much-needed and drastic step in the right direction.  However, I want to take the discussion away from whether private or public healthcare is better.  Although it is very relevant, I want to emphasize how people must somehow get better guidance while simultaneously taking matters into their own hands to improve the health of their families.

  • What kind of food do you buy?  Is it genetically modified or processed?
  • How often do you eat and in what quantities?
  • How often do you exercise and encourage the same of your family and friends?
  • How about your spiritual and emotional health?
  • Have you considered alternatives to traditional drugs and treatments, like herbal remedies and other therapeutic practices (acupuncture, etc)?

These questions and issues will serve as discussion points for future blog entries.  Health and fitness is one of my primary areas of interest and knowledge.  I will be very vocal about this, offering actionable recommendations and solutions primarily for individuals and families, and in some cases to organizations, communities and governments.  I always believe that people, on an individual level, can get things done and effect change in their own lives, as well as that of their families, more effectively than institutions can.

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