Here’s a question: What medical treatment improves health? Chemotherapy? Heart bypass? Prozac? What? Feel free to answer below–all comments welcome. I really want to know, because if improving health is a goal of health care reform–and it certainly should be–then shouldn’t we define which aspect of today’s health care system is improving health?
Former Health and Human Services Secretary appointee, Tom Daschle had it right when he spoke of the importance of making “wellness cool”. But wellness comes from lifestyle behaviors, not medical procedures. If you’ve read my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, then you know where I place medical care on the health care spectrum–it’s for saving lives. And in saving lives, nothing beats American medicine.
But health giving? Yeah, what? One gentleman told me about his doctors visit where they found his thyroid to be under-functioning. “And that is medical prevention or wellness,” he said.
“What was prevented,” I asked.
“My thyroid becoming a problem.”
“But it’s already hypothyroid–that doesn’t change. The medicine or treatment prevents you from becoming lethargic. It’s saved your life–at least the quality, that is.”
I know that’s a tough point for people to accept, but it’s true. Antibiotics don’t kill bacteria; they simply poke holes in the cell walls of bacteria or stop their growth, and so they leave the bacteria susceptible to attack from the white blood cells of the immune system. Chemotherapy doesn’t bring the body back to health–it kills all the cells in the body, and the body must build itself back up through its own faculties.
Here’s the point: Nothing heals the body but the body itself. It can be helped along through medical procedures, but ultimately it must self-heal and self-regulate. The only way to nurture the body’s innate healing ability is through practicing healthy lifestyle habits.
With this in mind, how is providing universal health coverage going to “improve” the health of Americans? The only real way to improve the health of the masses is by teaching, encouraging and rewarding healthy behaviors. This doesn’t mean punishing business that provide junk–it’s everybody’s responsibility to know what’s healthy and what’s not. Instead, why doesn’t the government provide tax breaks for gym or yoga studio memberships? How about covering chiropractic and massage therapy in every health plan? Twelve a year–how ’bout it Obama? How about really making wellness cool. Or do we just have to hear the rhetoric, and see another law passed that helps the rich (insurance industry).
If what the President says is true, that a universal health plan should “place the American people’s interests above the special interests,” then shouldn’t it do more than just provide us with life-saving coverage. Shouldn’t we take the cool wellness concept to heart? It’s really the only way to bring health care costs down.