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
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.