Rethinking America’s Very Sick Healthcare System

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Let’s face it — despite having the world’s most expensive healthcare system, the United States has been given the worst ranking for over five years, among the wealthier countries, regarding measures of access, equity, quality, efficiency and healthy lives.1  In addition, in 2006, the US was number 1 in the world for spending per capita, yet 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality and 36th for life expectancy.2

For a country that is supposedly a world power, we sure have the capacity to spend a lot of money on being weak and sick.  And the sicker we get, the more expensive hospital stays and procedures get, as well as medications we need to take, that now come along with television commercials, advocating that we need to take these drugs we can’t even pronounce that are obviously highly toxic, to even survive.

American healthcare system

Meanwhile, to help with the healthcare costs, our physicians and allied healthcare providers are getting paid less and told to spend less time with us, so that not only are we getting sicker, but so is our healthcare system.

Does this sound okay to you?

That as a nation we are getting sicker, which is raising the sticker price on our health needs, which pharmaceutical and insurance companies are only too happy to help us increase?

The American Healthcare System is Sick

Sure, there are some aspects of our healthcare model that advocate increasing preventive medicine efforts but overall, our healthcare system is extremely flawed and doesn’t take care of the people in it. Unless these efforts include drugs or testing, preventive medicine promoters have little say or power.  Unless you are backed by the Coca-Cola Company, that is.

The giant company is actually now backing a program called Exercise is Medicine, a global initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) whereby exercise professionals get certified to work with sick people, to help them change behaviors and “reach stronger health outcomes.”

The only problem or problems, I should say, is that these said exercise professionals are not being trained in nutrition or other lifestyle behavior paradigms and the program is being backed by a company that pushes high fructose corn syrup and an abundance of chemicals in food products for the same patient population.  American healthcare system

Now don’t get me wrong. Getting sick people to exercise is a great thing and it’s a good start.  But creating another licensing program that means more costs and more profits to someone else, without incorporating other lifestyle coaching needs, seems to me insufficient.

In addition, the ACSM is the same organization that was behind the push to send all level-1 (L-1) CrossFit coaches be fined or sent to jail if caught actually coaching, publishing false data on CrossFit injuries, which has since been rescinded.  Thank goodness, as I would have gone to jail for coaching, seeing as how I have an L-1 certification.

So yes, I question their motives since in fact, personally, Crossfit saved my health, especially my back and my psyche, and got my almost 48-year-old body to be stronger and fitter than it was when I was 25. Rather than getting injured by doing Crossfit, unlike the multiple times (too many to count) that I got injured working with a personal trainer certified by the ACSM, my injuries got better.

So okay, preventive medicine is a movement and now Exercise is Medicine is too.  Will this change our culture?  Will this change our healthcare system? Will this really help our over stressed, poorly fed, under slept, lonely population who probably don’t even know they are sick?

Think about it.  Obesity is now an epidemic.  The majority of people in this world are so stressed that they have little time for self-care, exercise or self-awareness, choosing to eat fast food, pop pills, or drink diet coke to get through the day, cope or get skinny.  The majority of people don’t even know that they are sick because not only have they never felt well, or haven’t felt well in so long they’ve forgotten what it feels like. Most have sadly never experienced vitality either.

What I would really like to see is a movement that changes the way we approach medicine altogether, one that would radically transform our healthcare system.  I would like to see a movement that supports individuals to become fit in mind, body and spirit so that they can not only avoid sickness, but also ward it off seamlessly once it arrives.

What if I were to give you the choice between being sick, not being sick, or being so fit that your body’s natural ability to conquer the bad stuff would win more often than not? Which would you opt for?

It’s quite a concept isn’t it?

Now the question is, can it be done?

I think so, yes.

I got inspired about the concept when I went to the CrossFit L-1 training.  When I started reading through the material and watching the associated videos and even more excited when I went to the seminar.

And I got excited.

You see, I thought I was going to a class to learn how to show people how to exercise safely.  But I got so much more.  The lessons went beyond athletics, beyond simply wanting people to learn a movement.

The manual alone explained the basis of how to not only help individuals achieve fitness, but how to avoid sickness and move beyond wellness, explaining what I and many of my colleagues have been teaching in mind-body medicine– how to maintain adaptability, coordination, balance, agility, strength, and stamina, or in other words, how to stay fit and strong throughout life, in observable and measurable terms.  This manual was not just explaining to me how to teach a client how to do a given sport or athletic movement.  It was teaching me how to be a health coach.

My excitement only grew as I listened to our instructors lecture.   They not only clarified my questions and taught me how to correct my own and other athletes’ movements, but they inspired me to want to live healthier, be a stronger part of my community and to continue on a healthy nutrition plan.

They covered a lot of material—from theory to mechanics and technique to nutrition and the sickness-wellness-fitness continuum.

American healthcare system

Now this was a concept I liked.  Approaching health from a fitness spectrum, rather than one that focused on sickness or even just prevention. Prevention isn’t something that is even pushed, promoted or applauded in our healthcare system. If it were, then so many insurance companies wouldn’t be kicking back claims for things that should be covered as a preventative measure, to keep us as healthy as we can be.

I thought if a multi-million dollar organization could influence the masses to become fit, why not change medicine from the outside, rather than from the inside?  Let the inside focus on hospital stays and medication, and let the outside get people off medication, walking, lifting and socializing as they are meant to be.

Honestly, I’d really like to see the CrossFit model or one like it influencing our healthcare system, not the healthcare system influencing fitness.  I embrace the idea of creating a world-wide movement that influences even larger numbers of people to not only interested in getting in shape, but also in being fit and having a healthier lifestyle and mindset.

I’d like to see further certifications and trainings happening so that health coaches teach all individuals the functional movements we learn in CrossFit, now to eat, how to connect with a community, meditate, become more mindful and find more meaning in their lives. And, become more balanced. For with balance comes a healthy body in body and spirit.

Emotional and Spiritual Health is vital to our well-being as well — they’re connected to our physical health and to how we feel about ourselves, which plays a part in how we ‘show up’ every day.

I have been practicing medicine for over 20 years and I can tell you that from my experience, whereby I help my patients become fit in mind, body and spirit, now only do they achieve healthy, but they become more excited about being fit, rather than just not getting sick.

Wouldn’t you love to see a healthcare system embracing these ideals? One which embraces your needs in body, mind and spirit?

Are you with me?

 

References:

  1. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/press-releases/2014/jun/us-health-system-ranks-last
  2. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0910064

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Dr. Eva Selhub
Dr. Eva Selhub is an internationally recognized resiliency expert, physician, author, speaker, scientist and consultant. Dr. Eva engages her clients and her audiences with her powerful energy, words of wisdom and scientific knowledge to activate the five pillars of resilience–physical, mental, spiritual, relationship and team– to achieve optimal resilience, success, health and happiness. Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Eva served as an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and as a Clinical Associate of the world renowned Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital for nearly 20 years. She is the author of The Love Response and the co-author of Your Brain on Nature, and her latest book Blow up or Bliss Out will release in 2018. Dr. Eva has been included in national media such as The New York Times, USA Today, Self, Shape, Fitness, Health, The Dr. Oz show and more. In addition to We Blog the World, she also writes for Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Steven Aitchison, Success Stories, Rebelle Society, Good Men Project and Human Spaces.
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