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Healthcare by the Numbers

By Dr. Kohar Jones
. 1 Comment(s)

In the United States in 2012:

Annual health care costs: $2.7 trillion

Percent of healthcare costs linked to individual behaviors: 70%

Cost of tobacco, alcohol, soda, illicit drugs, unsafe sex, sedentary lifestyle, etc: $1.89 trillion.

 

The numbers tell a story—of how much money we can save on medical spending if as a society, we find ways to change individuals’ risky health behaviors.

 

Fee for service reimbursements to doctors

5 minute cardiac stent: $1500

45 minute behavioral counseling: $15

 

Current reimbursements favor intervention, not prevention. We pay big bucks for sick care not health care.

 

Average annual salary

Interventional cardiologist: $320K

Family physician: $168K

Nutritionist: $53K

Athletic trainer: $45K

 

We need to fairly reimburse the care that will keep people well.

We need less high tech and more high touch interventions to empower people to change their lifestyles. 

We need more athletic trainers, yoga instructors, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, and dietitians, working together with the medical team to promote healthy behaviors.

As a society, we need to make healthy choices easy choices.

Simplify food labeling.

Subsidize fruits and veggies instead of commodities like corn. .

Ensure the creation of bike trails and city parks.

 

“We don’t need to spend ourselves into poverty on health care,” cautioned a speaker in the documentary film Escape Fire.  “We just need to do it differently.”

 

We need to reimburse health and wellness instead of more-more-more medical care.  We need to pay fee for value instead of fee for service.

 

If health care inflation applied to the rest of the economy from the 1950s to today, food costs would be:

A dozen eggs: $55.

A gallon of milk: $48.

 

 We can’t afford the status quo in the way we spend our healthcare dollars.  We need to value health, and shift from desperate medical interventions to stave off death to gentle lifestyle changes to promote health. Together, we can pay for the powerful, simple, low tech low cost interventions that motivate patients to change their risky health behaviors, and stop the runaway inflation of our medical costs.

Share Your Comments

 

  1. Carol Gino

    Permalink
    Okay, cool little bit of info about the Medicare.gov site. First of all they put comparisons on (like stars and some aren't available) and second most of the drugs listed are generics, so if you, like me, are allergic to generics, you have to have your doctor write for an exception. But you can't apply for an exception if you're not a member of a plan, and you can't get the answer till after Jan 1st. when your new plan benefits start. Oh, and you also can't get the criteria for an exception because they are all decided on an individual basis. So now, what's all this about we're afraid to let the government decide? We need to have it all between our doctor and ourselves. Not! And this was long before Obama or the Affordable Care act. Now the problem is that we have to have more generics but less choice. How will you compare?

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