Health and Health Care Issues

Labor time lost due to health reasons totals more than 475 million days, $260 billion a year.

Of the 30 countries in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, the big hitters) the USA is number one in cancer, AIDS, and obesity. All three of these reflect lifestyle choices and are known killers.

Since 1980, the number of Americans suffering from diabetes has doubled to more than 20 million, and that number is projected to double again by 2025. The study found that it costs the federal government nearly $80 billion ($79.7) more to treat people with diabetes than those without the disease.  This represents 12 percent of $645 billion in total federal health care spending, the official total for federal health care spending in 2005.

74.1% of our population is overweight and/or obese. 27% of health care costs are due to chronic obesity. We eat over 150 pounds a sugar per person and drink over 2.6 gallons of alcohol per person per year, over 7.4 billion gallons of beer.

The US spends 15.3% of our Gross Domestic Product on treating and caring for the unhealthy, we call it health care. We are the highest among the 30 OECD nations. (Japan, 8.0%; Germany 10.7%, UK 8.3%)

Health care results, what are we getting for our money?

Life span: Japan 82.1, UK.79, Germany 79, USA. 77.

Infant mortality: deaths per 1000 births:   Japan 2.8. UK 5.1, Germany 3.9, USA 6.8

The USA has the third highest rate of deaths from medical errors among the 30 nations.

Most of our workforce is obese, diabetic, sick, hung over and inactive. As a nation we do next to nothing in health care promotion and prevention, beyond childhood immunization and pharmaceuticals. We are tied to fast food, high fructose corn sugar, booze and the couch.

In 2008, there were 37,000,000 Americans 65 years or older. This year, 2010, that number will be over 40,000,000, 2050, 86,000,000.

Next year over 6 million Americans will be 85 or older, 7 million by 2020 and nearly 21 million by 2050.

Alzheimer’s is sitting in the nation like an economic time bomb capable of causing a horrific cash flow difficulty for everyone. One out of every eight people, 65 and older, have Alzheimer’s. Nearly half the population over 85 suffers from the disease.

The cost to Medicare alone for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia will reach $160 billion in 2010 and well over $200 billion in 2020.

We do not have a health care system. We have a terribly expensive, inefficient, and relatively ineffective system of taking care of the unhealthy. Within the OECD nations we have a pretty good system for unique, complicated, relatively rare disease and conditions. In providing effective care for families and individuals, in the general practice of medicine, we are behind many of the other 29 nations.

President Obama started the process of reform; I thank him for that work. The rest of the work is still to be done. Most of it requires a cultural shift.