Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Price of Colonoscopies and US Health Care

Sometimes, I wonder if the copy editors for major news sources know what they are doing, are they trying to be snarky, make a subtle sarcastic point? Colonoscopies I think are incredible metaphors for the state of US Health economics, the visual is priceless, the symbolism perfect, the silly responses endless...... but then I always laugh at fart jokes and the like, occupational hazard of having younger brothers........

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 142,820 men and women (73,680 men and 69,140 women) will be diagnosed with and 50,830 men and women will die of cancer of the colon and rectum in 2013. A major way this cancer is diagnosed is by Colonoscopies. The Colon is an incredible organ in the body, a true work of art, and has really suffered under the typical American diet of mostly meat and sugar, coffee and little fiber. We are also learning that exposure to pesticides is a major culprit in the increase incidence of colon cancer. I call the colon the UPS of the body, where food stuffs are transformed, packed and shipped out as part of the miracle of digestion. While any cancer is terrible, people afflicted with colon cancer suffer particularly horrific deaths. Colonoscopies performed on a regular basis can detect cancer and literally save peoples lives.

Here are some interesting pictures from the Colon Cancer Alliance, apparently one can now purchase inflatable colons for patient education. There is hope for me to launch my modeling career yet! What do they inflate them with I wonder?

I took a public health class at UCLA in the early 80's. At that time, we learned that US Health Care was costing 12% of GDP. Before the onset of third party insurance in the 40's and 50"s, the US had a relatively healthy population, and spent only 6% of GDP on health care. I think it is sort of funny that this article uses Colonoscopies as a metaphor for health costs, because it is actually the best symbol of what said costs are doing to the US population. Time after time, I have written letters to papers and representatives asking for true market forces to determine health care costs. I say over and over, when no one will publish me, the insurance companies have done to health care what sub-prime mortgages have done to real estate. Sort of an economic Colonoscopy for the middle class, maybe a colonic is a more descriptive term. Colon cancer is also a great visual as to what the middle class suffers in terms of health care economics in the US.

 Insurance allows wild pricing, because there is no real competition for customers. Insurance also fixes the market against people such as myself, by squeezing natural medicine out of the market place. The Affordable Health Care act I feel will be the death knell to my sort of medicine, because Naturopathy and Acupuncture is not covered, and hospitals and insurance will only reimburse such services, sort of, if a physician provides them. Most physicians providing such care have learned it through weekend seminars or 12 part video classes, with no boards or examinations. A 60 dollar treatment from an Acupuncturist will be marked up to several hundred dollars if a physician does the same procedure, often wrongly because they were not trained in technique or diagnosis for Traditional Chinese Medicine. People pay me out of their pockets, and with the impending mandatory insurance purchasing, or resulting tax for not doing so, what little out of pocket money people would spend on things like Acupuncture will not be available to a large portion of the population. Natural medicine, which should be available to all, and the first step in health care, will now be relegated to the rich who have better health anyways. The mistake of the Affordable Health Care act is that it really has nothing to do with health care, and everything to do with insurance care. If our health care system is entered through the door of insurance, well then this is the law that makes it somewhat more equitable. But Insurance and Big Pharma are the reasons health care costs are so expensive, they have destroyed medicine in this country. The administration of insurance, salaries, pay outs and bonuses to insurance executives are the reason health care is out of control. Any fool would rack up the charge for anything if they knew they would get it. President Obama knew the only way to have any sort of health care reform pass in the Congress was to invite Insurance and Big Pharma to the table, but they should have not been invited. It is similar to having cocaine cartels be involved with addiction treatment policy.

After my hernia surgery, I held my abdomen in agony as I laughed at the bill. $80.00 to have my lower abdomen painted with betadine, and they charged me an extra $15.00 for the bottle. I want that bottle, I paid for it, what did they do with it ?  I could have painted my own belly at a fraction of the cost. Each 15 minute time period during surgery was charged for in terms of anesthesia and room rental. Did I get those minutes prorated for the next surgery?  I can not afford insurance at this time, and no one will hire me as a woman in her 50's. The penalty for not purchasing insurance is a few hundred dollars on my taxes, which is the direction I will go at this time. I refuse to contribute to this sick system, I would rather give the money to the government, as I feel it will be better spent than giving my money to an insurance industry that has no regard for human life, the wisdom of physicians and has destroyed my profession. In essence, I am willing to pay a tax for my health care directly to the government, because at least that is where the money will go, not to pay for lobbyists that work to enrich their clients at the expense of my fellow citizens. Any further discussion on my feelings towards Insurance and Big Pharma would violate my blogger agreement, and remove the "G" rating from the post.

A brief overview of modern health care challenges in the United States shows the majority of the disease from which we suffer are related to nutrition. Heart Disease, Diabetes and Cancer are the three big killers, and the others that plague us are immune related and degenerative, say Asthma, Arthritis and Auto Immune disorders. Each and every chronic disease has a nutritional etiology. Too much bad fat, protein and cholesterol, too little fiber, mineral and vitamin content. Don't even get me started on the fake food stuff like GMO's and processed sugars. Our bodies do only what they know how to do, fight the invaders only the invaders are what we are eating.

With the onset of the industrial food system, what we have seen is a steady decline in the nutritional value of food. Fruits and vegetables literally have half the vitamin content the had 50 years ago, and yes folks it has been documented 

And no these are not studies promoted by the vitamin industry. What is so interesting is that the minerals and vitamins so vital to human health have been declining since the onset of mono culture farming and the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Take Chromium for example. This so called wonder mineral is in all weight loss supplements, there was a book written in the 90's all about how to eat chromium rich foods that would help you loose weight.Chromium has been decreasing in the food supply since the onset of industrial farming. Do I sense a bit of dot connection going on? Chromium helps you loose weight (fat), lack of Chromium makes you fat, less Chromium since industrial farming, maybe industrial farming makes you fat, which them increases your chances for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. I could go on and on and on. Supplementing with vitamins is not the answer, it is a sad commentary on our food supply, that even if we eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, we can't get nourished. Many people, often in farming communities, do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. In Redlands, California where I used to live, it was in San Bernardino County, next to Riverside County, with some of the best small farms in the nation. Yet, it had high obesity rates, why? The food was shipped out of the county, and the junk food shipped in and sold at Walmart.

It is all related, the high cost of health care, the incidence of chronic diseases, the lack of access to real food, the diminishing nutrition of food sources and the industrial food system. Maybe this is what you will be thinking about during your next colonoscopy. For me, I will be eating lots of organic berries and greens, that is my protection, my health care, it costs a lot less, and is really much more fun than, well, a colonoscopy.

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