Healthcare Insanity: It's All About You

Treating Disease vs. Promoting Health

We have lost our way when it comes to healthy living and for many of us (not all) we bear responsibility for the state of our health.  

I know a guy with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)—let's call him Sam.  Sam refuses to stop smoking. He knows it's going to kill him and cause suffering for his family, not to mention the expense of his treatments, but dang it, he's just not going to stop. At work he takes a smoke break with other co-workers and they all talk about how they need to stop or how people need to butt-out of telling them to stop.  Besides, he's being treated for his COPD by his doctors and taking his inhaled steroids as prescribed.  

This scenario plays itself out everyday in this country whether with UV exposure, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or even pre-diabetes. We collectively suffer from chronic disease at alarming rates.  We know what causes this disease, but rather than attack the cause, we treat the symptoms. What is ironic is that what applies to us as individuals also applies to us collectively; our entire healthcare delivery system is designed to treat or manage disease, not prevent it.  We treat or manage disease rather than preventing it.

The following infographic from the Bipartisan Policy Center really gets to the heart of the matter. (Thanks, Ezra Klein, and your terrific Wonkblog on the Washington Post for sharing)


Health Infographic: What Makes Us Healthy


What makes us healthy is not what we spend our health dollars on. Our priorities are completely out of whack.  This is insanity.  The worst part is the only way to really combat chronic disease is for each of us to change our lifestyles.  If we adopt healthy behaviors, both individually and collectively, we will feel better, work better, live better, and go a long way to solving the related crisis of healthcare spending and public debt.

So if you suffer from chronic disease, the first thing you can do is adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you are looking for a place to start, I suggest reading my post detailing 5 strategies for reducing chronic pain.

I recognize that some chronic disease is genetic and out of an individual's control.  Type 1 diabetes is a great example, but it's hard to question that the majority of chronic disease is self-inflicted.

Do you think we need to take more personal responsibility for managing our own health?