Health Reform – 8 Simple Ways to Reform Your Health

Whilst the health agenda in the USA has captured most of the headlines, the same issues are confronting other countries too. The central issue remains how to pay for the services, which are expected to be needed, by an aging population with a shrinking taxpayer base.

In Australia a tax review has just been completed and the third inter generational report is about to be handed down. This looks at projections for the next generation.

One of the snippets from the tax review caught my eye. It claimed that the cost per head of pharmaceuticals in Australia had trebled in twenty years from around $200 per head to over $600 whilst in the preceding twenty years it had remained stable. This was put down to the development of “blockbuster” drugs.

The cost of drugs in Australia is much less than in the USA due to a system called the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which in simplest terms makes the government the “sole” buyer of drugs that are listed on the scheme. So where is most of the money going?

By far the biggest spend is on cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) which accounted for AUD $1billion in 2008/09. Other biggies were reflux drugs and blood thinners at around AUD $200 million each and a common antidepressant at AUD $100 million.

The next question is what are we getting for our money? Life expectancies have continued to gradually increase over the last century by about one quarter of a year per year. This rate has not accelerated over the last twenty years. Rates of heart disease and reflux have not plummeted.

Given the amount expended on pharmaceuticals you would think that questions about benefits would be asked. By this I do not mean clinical trials, which shows that the drug “works”, I mean questions about benefits to society in terms of longevity or better levels of health. There seems to be silence on that front.

In the whole “health care” reform agenda there are always arguments about how we are going to afford the cost of disease. There are never any questions asked about ways to reduce spending on disease by people being…healthier. When one looks at the “conditions” treated by the most expensive drugs they are mainly lifestyle conditions and the cleverly coined term” risk factors”.

In other words we are treating with expensive tablets that which we have brought about through our habits be they dietary, exercise or other. Logically then, if it was not a pill that caused the problem, why is a pill the answer?

What is needed is a change in the way we look at health care. Our current systems are disease systems. The cost comes from treating disease. There is little or no support for or investment in people being healthy. A genuine health system would be looking to keep people healthy rather than pick up the pieces after they have become sick.

As individuals we need to be responsible too. Around three quarters of spending on disease is for diseases that come about not through random action but by our daily actions. We need to be responsible for our own health. Here are eight simple tips

1) Each day do some slow deep breathing
2) Make water your main beverage
3) Eat food that till recently was moving around or growing somewhere
4) Be active each day
5) Get adequate, eight hours for most people, sleep
6) Manage your stress
7) Have good relationships
8) Have fun and purpose in your life

This is all easy and inexpensive. All that is required is for you to do it.

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The Health Reform Law Provides New Career Opportunities in the Health Services Sector!

The Health Reform Law signed March 23, 2010, will increase demand in all areas of health care in America. The intent of the law was to create a virtual universal health care system in America that could accommodate all the people. Few people are able to pay cash for medical services; most of us rely on health insurance to cover our medical expenses. Prior to the signing of the Health Reform bill, health care insurance hasn’t been widely available to all Americans and this has caused many of us to put off early treatment until the ailment assumes critical proportions. When it does, we must then go to emergency rooms, with our then advanced disease. The emergency room is the most expensive type of medical care, and one of the chief reasons Americans are spending a stunning $2 trillion a year on medical services. Making health insurance accessible and affordable to all Americans is the answer to this problem.

Being insured, people will be able to seek early treatment, and preventative medicine can thus curtail the more expensive procedures that are the root cause of the uncontrolled growth of medical care cost. The law has already taken effect and the ramifications, in terms of numbers of patients, are about to descend on a health services industry that is ill prepared to handle the increased volume.

Currently, health services in the U.S. are barely able to keep up with the 150 million employer-insured and the 40 million elderly citizens receiving Medicare. By 2019, the ranks of the employer-insured are expected to increase by 9 million, and Medicare will take on another 12 million people. Exchanges, a vehicle that will provide low cost insurance to small businesses and individuals, will add an additional 25 million to the rolls. From 2010 to 2019, approximately 46 million new people will be added to the health care load. Does our current health services industry have what’s needed to accommodate this relatively sudden growth?

Most of the burden of this increase will fall on the primary care component of the health services industry. According to the Academy of Family Physicians, by 2020, the demand will far outweigh the supply of these professionals. 40,000 new primary care professionals is what the demand will require. At that time, we’ll have a situation in which nearly everyone can afford medical treatment, while yet fewer professionals are available to provide it.

To meet the expected increase in medical services demands, the new Health Law has allocated billions to the education of new health care professionals. Even if they were to get started immediately, most would not be fully trained until from four to six years hence. To get the ball rolling, the law has provided funds for education in the health services field, has made scholarships and grants available, and is set to support professionals in whatever continuing studies they may need to handle the new demand. Demand over supply will also inevitably increase monetary compensation for available health care professionals. For those considering health services as a career, a wide open field awaits them with all the help they will need to establish their new careers.

Attention is also being focused on how and where health care may be delivered. The law is allocating $11 billion for the creation of new health centers in our communities. Work is underway to promote nurse-operated clinics. Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants will take on new roles, having increased responsibilities. Expect to see new and different medical facilities working in coordination, in order to optimize the use of health service personnel.

Thanks to the Health Reform Law, the health services industry is about to become the most promising career path available. If you’re considering what career choice to follow, now is the time to look into the health services industry. Now is your chance to be in demand, for a lifetime!

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