How America’s healthcare system will keep you sick

Have you ever worried about how you’re going to get healthy these days? Has your doctor recommended diet and exercise? Well, if you’re like millions who are struggling to find health, you’re going to need a lot more than just diet and exercise. You’re going to have to fight like crazy against a mind-set of disease that’s paradoxically disguised as health care.

America’s healthcare system – health insurance companies, government health programs, drug companies, and conventionally-trained specialists are integrated to keep you sick.

Let’s take a look at how this all works from a perspective we don’t often look at – the big picture.

How are health insurance companies able to post $4 billion in Wall Street profit every quarter, boasting “business growth across all sectors?” Health insurance companies must increase premiums to beneficiaries, decrease reimbursements to doctors and deny coverage for care, citing pre-existing conditions and exclusion of services as their fundamental reasons. They segment the market into healthy people (80% or more) who can pay for the not-so-healthy people (<20%) who cannot pay but need care. They pay more for fix-it procedures like cardiac bypasses and punish people retroactively for going to the emergency room to seek care by denying “non-emergency coverage.” At the same time, they decrease preventive care reimbursements to primary care providers that keep patients out of the hospital.

Are health insurance companies really interested in keeping Americans healthy for the long-term, or more interested in a short-term view of increasing next quarter’s earnings? When money is in such short supply, will they truly invest in the long-term payment of aggressive, integrated health programs or will they attempt to keep their financial noses above water by paying as little as possible to the millions of aging people who are now burdening an already stressed system?

If you’re healthy right now, you’ll likely have trouble staying that way. You are the target group that needs to pay for disease care, now. Your money will be siphoned in the form of premiums and taxes at escalating amounts, effectively decreasing your ability to engage in health habits – quality food, nutritional counseling, preventive body work and rehabilitation, fitness memberships, personal trainers or psychological counseling for heightened levels of stress and anxiety over a healthcare system that’s imploding. In the end, you will squander your health care, now, for a future of disease that will never be “fixed” by a healthcare system with such short-sighted focus.

Our government program, Medicare, is a great example of what will happen to the healthy version of you in the future if you continue to support it. Promises made to Medicare beneficiaries in the last century that health will be cared for at retirement have revealed just how narrowly focused our government policies actually are. At roughly 10,800 Medicare recipients qualifying for the program per day, or 4 million baby boomers a year since 2010, it’s a no-brainer that Medicare will be insolvent once the remaining 64 million boomers qualify into the program. Federal deficits are estimated at $16 trillion, but when unfunded entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are included, the total is around $211 trillion.

Again, in order to pay for programs which are imploding now, the government must tax the healthy and young, funneling that money into disease care now.

What about drug companies? How do they make money? According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), $146.9 billion was spent on prescription drugs in the top 5 therapeutic classes in 2009, most of which are preventable conditions. From 1997 to 2004, total expenses for outpatient prescription drugs increased by 160%, from $72.3 to $191.0 billion, according to an April 2007 MEPS report.

If we become healthier as a nation and don’t require these drugs for our preventable conditions, how will drug companies make money? Between 1996 and 2006, total expenditures for cancer treatment increased from $46.9 to $57.5 billion. So what disease do drug companies need us to have in order to sell us their drugs at premium prices?

Believing that we are going to “cure cancer” has now become a wonderful lie that tugs at our hearts, opens our purses and perpetuates our reliance on drugs instead of funneling billions into the provision of health practices and education first. The National Cancer Institute 2012 Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer states that, “[cancers] are associated with being overweight or obese. Several of these cancers also are associated with not being sufficiently physically active.” But instead of money going toward aggressively correcting behavior, we raise money to endlessly search for a cure long after the fact.

Finally, what about our beloved medical specialists who, in America, out-number primary care providers by 3 to 1? How are specialists paid? How are they trained?

Conventional medical specialists are incentivized to cut, fix, prescribe and test. They spend 10-15 years in the minutia of disease mentality, gluing their eyes to the proverbial microscope. They are paid to search, find and destroy disease. The more specialized they are, the more disease-oriented their mind-set, having learned for many years to begin with the grossly damaged end product of a very sick living system – you – and then work backwards to find a cure. Specialists are not trained to step back and view the integrated big picture of health and its practices. Since they are experts in disease, their recommendations will be disease-focused under guidelines for the “prevention of disease,” rather than operating inside a paradigm of health first. At the end of that disease-focused exercise, specialists are taught to proudly declare that you, their patient, are healthy by virtue of the fact you don’t have a disease. And if they could not find a disease, they will be encouraged by a disease-oriented healthcare system to make up something in order to get paid; something called an ICD code.

The International Classification of Diseases or ICD-coding system which is the creed of the medical profession has gone from a few hundred categories to 144,000 in its recent tenth version. Doctors operating under this highly disease-driven medical system worth trillions are trained and paid as automatons to inadvertently deliver disease under a disguise of health care. And many don’t or can’t see that this is what they are trained to do.

But, is the absence of disease the equivalent of health?

We are trained to believe it is. We are incentivized to act like it is. We are pushed, punished and reprimanded to sink our mind-set and thoughts inside a system that must keep us this way – diseased, sick and poor, in order to make its next quarter earnings. Inside a system this corrupt with paradoxical messaging, one that seeks to keep us this sick, why do we wonder the more we spend, the sicker we seem to become?

The question is this. Can you separate yourself from a disease-oriented medical system to find optimal health, when all these parameters – health insurance, government programs, drug companies, and doctors – perpetuate disease via their beliefs, thoughts, training, messaging, and actions?

We are spinning into a death spiral – not only economically, but physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. The more we focus on the disease details – the more we desperately slash through the forest without seeing the trees – the sicker we will all become. No amount of money will ever solve that problem, because the problem is the way we see the problem.

Change the way you see things, push aside what you’ve been told to believe against all opposition, vilification and condemnation, and only then will you be able to find optimal health.

Natasha Deonarain is the founder of The Health Conscious Movement. She is the author of the upcoming book, The 7 Principles of Health and can be reached on Twitter @HealthMovement.

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  • Saahil

    Great piece!

  • Samir Qamar

    Thought-provoking, insightful article. We, at MedLion Direct Primary Care, agree with every principle discussed herein.

  • Dan983

    Best and most inclusive article I’ve ever read. Congratulations.

  • petromccrum

    Great article!! Health education for all is the key to a healthy life.

  • Robert Luedecke

    Thank you for a very thought provoking article. Please keep in mind that many specialists including myself routinely try to help patients improve their health. As an anesthesiologist, I ask all of my patients about smoking and try to help them find a way to quit. With all of my obese patients I tell them that my doctor advised me several years ago if I could lose some weight, my overall health would be much better. We talk about the wide range of activity possibilities, including my wife and I walking about 3 miles each day together. We definitely need more primary care doctors and better paid primary care doctors, but a lot of us specialists try to do our part also.

  • Natasha Deonarain, MD, MBA

    Thank you for the compliments / insights! But here’s the next step as we peer over edge of this high cliff – are we prepared to stand up for what we know to be true? Are we – as doctors and patients – willing to collapse an entire construct of dogmatic prose, greed and evil in the name of ‘health’ and watch it fall to the ground, for our future, for our children, for a nation that has no other option but to burn to the ground and from its ashes, hopefully rise like the phoenix??? It’s a very simple solution. Imagine, a cash based transaction at every level – opting out of Medicare, Medicaid, for-profit insurance – would they (<1%) have a system when the most important stakeholders cannot be trampled upon any longer? Would patients understand that the pursuit of health simply does not cost $13,000+ per capita and escalating? Would they understand that health comes first – a new paradigm of practice in health and not disease or medicine – IS the very cure we sink billions to find, and once we create it, disease cost becomes a nominal, shared responsibility. Disease becomes the outlier as it should be, and health now becomes the norm. Why not create it; right here, right now? What exactly are we all afraid of?? Being the first to stand up for truth?

  • Deep Ramachandran

    Fantastic article, well written, and includes the requisite amount of statistics thrown together in random fashion to prove the apparent point. Come to think of it, what is your point? Is your solution to declare a William Wallace on the healthcare system, to break free of the shackles of illness imposed on us? Do you perhaps have anything a bit more concrete to offer? Maybe you left out the last line of the piece which presumably would have said something like “and if you just buy my book for $24.99, all your problems will be solved! Call now, operators are standing by!”. . .

    • Mary P. Zook

      I would pay $24.99. Pennies compared to ….”Medicare doesn’t find the necessity of this test here’s your big fat hospital/doctor bill”

  • Deep Ramachandran

    Natasha, my main critique was that you did not put forth any particular plan. However I did read your website, and saw that you do have a framework for a new health care delivery model that mostly involves the internet. It goes on to say:
    “new healthcare delivery models will have a strong female component.
    Women are much more in tune with their bodies from an integrated
    perspective. In addition, they’re much more open to discuss unusual
    practices such as energy healing, spiritual or angel readers, Reiki
    practitioners and astrology in medicine. Women therefore, will be the
    key drivers of these new online healthcare models as they seek a
    stronger sense of connection, interaction, collaboration and integration
    while eliminating stakeholders with aggressive self-interest.”
    I stand corrected. You do have a plan. Good luck.

  • Tony Loam

    Maybe you are right. I am a surgeon and I really do “cut” to make things better. Whether it is breast cancer, colon cancer, acute appendicitis or a gangrenous gallbladder. I wish everyone was healthier. I am healthy as are my wife and 4 boys. We eat well and exercise, it is our lifestyle.

    But people have been pushing the “magic cure” for centuries. There are a dozen healthy women I know, including my wife, who spend hundreds of dollars a month on “essential oils”, the newest, greatest fad.

    It is easy to criticize modern medicine when in reality 9/10 physicians are honest and caring, whether they are a “specialist or in primary care. And when the reins come loose and you have a ruptured spleen from a car accident, an epidural from falling off a horse, or that new, rapidly enlarging lump in your breast you will call their name.

    Unless of course, you have already arranged to go to Mexico and have a coffee enema, walk through a maze and get an Apricot pit infusion.

  • Bradley Evans

    Great article. Thanks.

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