Currently viewing the tag: "health care reform"

Well no doubt that all this talk about health care reform has brought some long overdue can-o-worm opening. Take, for instance, unnecessary surgeries: a medical nuisance of the worst magnitude, and common practice for decades. A recent report discloses that riskier surgeries for low back pain have risen in number and in cost, yet many are unwarranted. Well n-o-o-o chit! You know what they say, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Data on more than 32,000 Medicare patients with low back pain stemming from spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal causing a squeezing low back pressure) showed that costlier, more complex spinal fusion surgeries were recommended and performed over a six year period. Less expensive decompression surgeries, costing roughly $20K, were often bypassed for $60-90K spinal fusions, despite the more expensive surgeries having greater complications and even leading to death.

Worse yet, many a spinal fusion was lacking in evidence for appropriateness of care. You don’t say? Our doctors doing the unnecessary? Nah, not McReamy. You bet your assets they are. And I love it, because we chiropractors have known about it for years, and we haven’t been quiet about it, either. We have tried to sway the public toward more natural and highly effective treatment options, but noooo, stay away from them chiropractors, they can hurt you.

Yeah? Listen to these number:

  • Risk of stroke in a $20Kspinal decompression (part of vertebrae hacked out to take pressure off nerve): 1 in 50
  • Risk of stroke in a $80K complex spinal fusion (vertebrae connected and joint removed): 1 in 20
  • Risk of stroke in a $3K round of chiropractic care: 1 in 5.85 million

Frickin’ duh!

According to the study, more than half the patients who had complex fusions had a simple stenosis, which usually calls for decompression alone. Rates of complex fusions in Medicare patients rose 15-fold from 2002-2007, while decompressions declined, and hospital charges grew 40 percent. There have been allegations of kickbacks to spine surgeons for using products of a particular hardware manufacturer. Hey Izzy, them screws you got in ya back sent me and the missus to Reno

Listen, I don’t really think there’s some big conspiracy here: It ain’t rocket science. The medicos are admittedly deficient in their training in treating musculoskeletal issues. Surgery is also notoriously ineffective at relieving low back pain for any significant stretch of time. So why are drugs (equally ineffective) and surgery still the treatments of choice by the cultural health authority? Simple. When all you have is a hammer…

A very intelligent lady posed an excellent question to me the other day. After asking me what my message to the world is, she said, “Don’t you think that the medical profession should have a hand in changing health care?” I said, “Most certainly, but I don’t think that on its own it can ever change the mind-frame immersed in this non-health system.”Let’s take a step back and talk about what I mean. Obviously, this conversation started because of the celebrated, but not yet passed, health care reform bill. The young lady wanted to know my opinion on this historic measure. Truth is, I don’t really care one way or the other what happens with regard to a national health care policy. Doesn’t change a thing as far as I can see. Politically speaking, though, it was a victory of grand proportions. Obamacare achieved what had been unattainable for more than 60 years–a nationalized American health care law. Bravo!

But from a health perspective, is this really the change we’ve been waiting for? Is this momentous piece of legislation going to improve the health of all Americans? Doubt it. No, more directly: Obamacare might give more Americans medical insurance, but it will worsen health, period!

How do I know? Simple. Medical care is not health care. Emotional non-thinkers think it is. Fine. It’s not and I can prove it. Medical care is sick care–it excels in saving lives. Saving lives is not health care. For the ignorant mind that scoffs at the notion, then certainly medical insurance is right up there with cell phones and Nikes as something every American must posses–because that’s equality. Equality has nothing to do with health. Health is not a right, it is a condition; more accurately, it is self-administered, self-regulated condition. The same morons that believe medical insurance equals health don’t really care about health or health care at all–it’s ideological for them. My foolish party politics are better than your’s are. Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya, nya.

So what would real health care reform look like? It would actually involve improving health (go figure). Should the medical profession have a hand in this? Yes, but they will never seriously push it, because there ain’t no money in healthy people (we can all do that for next to nuttin’). There’s a vested interest in sick people, even if it’s not talked about or simply part of the professional unconscious.

And for all the BS about doctors getting back to their roots and caring for people, well, that’s pure rhetoric. When doctors can’t earn enough to pay their student loans AND turn a profit, you’ll see law school applications go through the roof. Mark my words.

*Note: I will dedicate the rest of the month of March to showing exactly why health care reform isn’t about health. Dare to read and learn, disputers.

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.

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