Health Impact News Editor Comments
When I read an article in The Atlantic recently with the title: Living Sick and Dying Young in Rich America – Chronic illness is the new first-world problem – it caught my attention. This is the kind of topic we cover on a regular basis here at Health Impact News, but seldom do you read about it in the mainstream media.
There are 3 things that are rather astonishing about the sad state of health in America today:
1. We’re sicker than previous generations, and most of us know it.
2. We don’t seem to care about it too much. It is not headline news.
3. There doesn’t seem to be much motivation to change this fact: it seems to have been accepted as the new “norm.”
Last year, we reported about a study funded by the government and your tax dollars which clearly showed that the United States ranks #1 on healthcare spending, but last in life expectancy among wealthy nations (See: U.S. Ranks First in Healthcare Spending – Last in Life Expectancy). The mainstream media barely even covered this story, and even here at Health Impact News it was probably not even in the top 100 stories read from everything we published last year.
The sad fact seems to be that most Americans have adopted an attitude that the current health situation in the U.S. cannot be changed.
For those few of you who have not drunk the Kool Aid, and still believe you do have control over your health and have choices you can make to live a healthier life, then this article by John Thomas identifying the problems and solutions is for you.
Please understand that if enough Americans understand that the healthcare system (which is not really a “healthcare” system at all but a MEDICAL system) is the primary problem and take measures to avoid it, that it would absolutely destroy our economy, since so much of it is dependent on sick people. But maybe our economy is heading for destruction anyway, so don’t let that threat stop you from making healthy choices today.
Is it Normal to be Sick?
by John P. Thomas
Is it normal to be sick? Many people think so, but it hasn’t always been this way. What was life like before we became dependent on modern pharmaceutical drugs, major medical centers, and health insurance? If we turn back the clock a hundred and fifty years, we will hardly find anything that looks like the modern medical system. Did previous generations live in the dark ages of medicine, or is the modern age of chronic degenerative illness and modern pharmaceutical drugs actually a dark age of medicine?
I remember overhearing a conversation while waiting for a table in a restaurant some 25 years ago. A grandmother was talking to her 10 year old grandson. She must not have seen him for a while, so she began by asking one of those general types of questions to get the conversation started. “How are you feeling?” Without hesitation, her grandson started discussing his various health problems, which included allergies, asthma, fatigue, etc. In a grandmotherly voice filled with sympathy and concern, she gave a reply that sticks in my mind to this day. She said, “I understand — we all have something wrong with us.” She went on to tell him that we are all sick and we have to learn to live with it. I don’t know if her words were entirely true then, but they are most certainly true today! We are sick and getting sicker, and we are all being taught to live with it.
Here we are 25 years later and despite all the medical and pharmaceutical advances that have taken place in the United States, we are sicker than ever. How many people do you know who are not taking one or more prescription medications? How many people do you know who do not have a medical diagnosis for some chronic illness? How many people do you know who are not being treated for some condition that requires periodic trips to the doctor to monitor disease progression and to adjust medications? How many people do you know who struggle with paying for medications? If I count the people I know, who do not fall into the groups I just mentioned, I can count them on the fingers of one hand. How about the people you know?
The purpose of this article is to examine how we respond to our illnesses and to questions whether our pharmaceutical drugs and system of healthcare is making us sicker than we need to be.
Does the Healthcare System in the United States Lead the World?
We certainly lead the world in the amount of dollars spent on healthcare. We spend 2.5 times more per person per year than is spent in any other country on Earth for healthcare.1
Does the Money we Spend for Healthcare Make Us the Healthiest people in the World?
The New York Times recently revealed how our healthcare system compares to other countries.
“In the Social Progress Index, the United States excels in access to advanced education but ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety.”2
The United States is sitting in the 70th position down from the top of the list for the category of health when compared to other countries. Let’s look at the details of how we compare to other wealthy countries.
The Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries, compared the health of people living in the United States with people living in other high income countries, which included Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. They reported:
Over this time period, we uncovered a strikingly consistent and pervasive pattern of higher mortality and inferior health in the United States, beginning at birth: … For many years, Americans have had a shorter life expectancy than people in almost all of the peer countries. For example, as of 2007, U.S. males lived 3.7 fewer years than Swiss males and U.S. females lived 5.2 fewer years than Japanese females.3
We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, which should make us the healthiest people on Earth, but this is not the case.
Why are We so Sick?….