Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Reforming US Health Care

Supply and demand works in health care as it does in most areas of life. If we want reasonable prices, we must reduce demand.

The Arithmetic is Obvious

The arithmetic of health care is really very simple. With the cost of medical care going up at more than the rate of inflation, and the rate at which people are getting sick increasing as well, eventually the cost of all the medical care in the USA is going to be more than anyone can pay for. So the argument between a single-payer, government-run system and a privately-insured system is pointless.

Americans are eating themselves to death.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) has too much fat, too much sugar, and too much salt. It doesn’t have enough essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, or quality proteins.

Americans are couch-potato-ing themselves to death.

We don’t exercise. We’re too fat. We spend way too much time sitting—either in front of a computer, a video game or a TV.

The Solution

What will solve the health care crisis in America is for the American people to take personal responsibility for their health. They must eat, drink and exercise well. They must learn what that means. They must become more robust so that they can survive the stress and toxicity of modern life. Being robust means that the body has the physical strength to take a few knocks and the nutritional resources to fight disease and maintain its strength. If Americans can reduce the stress and toxicity too—well—that would help even more.

Americans pay more for health care than anyone but are some of the sickest people in the industrialized world. The answer to out-of-control costs of any commodity is to reduce the demand for it. When did you last get a flyer in the mail from an MD saying to “please come by my office—I’m looking for more patients.” There is WAY TOO MUCH demand for health care.

Another aspect of the cost of medical care is that no one in the current system has an interest in controlling cost. The hospitals need for there to be a surplus of sick people to fill up their beds. The insurance companies want the volume of legitimate claims to be very high so they can maintain their growth, and pay dividends to their stock-holders. Even doctors need us to be sick.

Doctors are often blamed because they’re on the front lines, facing the patients, but they are truly at the mercy of the system. A friend of mine who's a GP in a large clinic told me that he has to gross $40,000 per month before he has a dollar to feed his family. His facility costs, personnel costs, and insurance costs are huge. In order to make a living he has to move many, many patients through his office each day. He said he’d like to do patient education and reduce his patients’ dependence on medical care and drugs, but he just doesn’t have the time. So he writes his prescriptions and sends his patients on their way.

No one is providing preventative health care! Early detection is not prevention—patient education about nutrition and lifestyle issues are prevention!


No institution will fix health care—not the government, not the insurance companies, the hospitals or the doctors—certainly not the drug companies. The cost of health care will come down when people are healthier and need less health care.

At that point it won’t matter who pays for it.

Take a deep breath,

Dr. Ron