My last post on hip pain suggests the need for us all to be educated healthcare consumers and takes us back to the original goal of this blog – to be a credible, unbiased (by selling, advertizing or marketing products, for example) healthcare information source within the expertise of the writer. Clearly, if it takes 21 months and three providers to correctly diagnose hip pain, we must all be willing and able to ask questions of our healthcare providers (doctors, physical therapists, physicians assistants, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies).
$2.8 trillion ($2,800,000,000,000 – enough zeros?) is estimated to be spent on healthcare in 2013. In 2010, we spent just over $8000 per capita in the US and our life expectancy at birth ranks below countries that spend far less. Spain spends about $3000 per capita and has a life expectancy at birth of 82 and Japan spends $4000 per capita and has a life expectancy of 83.
Consider that the healthcare industry spent $5.36 billion lobbying Congress from 1998 to 2012 while the defense lobbyists spent $1.53 billion. Will this system change to your benefit as a patient? I do not think it will change in the near future and will thus continue to cost us all way more than we can afford.
I suggest we make the healthcare system challenges a mute point by using this reality as motivation to take charge of our own health. For example, what small lifestyle change can you make to start on the road to a healthier you today?
As a physical therapist I am partial to movement so why not move more each day. That means doing little things such as walking stairs, walking at lunchtime, taking family time and walking around your neighborhood after work with your kids, standing up from your office chair 10 times every two hours, anything you can think of that will increase your activity level.
A dietician may have ideas such as portion control, cutting out refined and fatty foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water. All you dieticians out there, feel free to post your ideas of simple, easy ideas people can use to start the process of improving their health.
What about a wellness visit to your primary care doctor? Dr Ronald Hicks in Sparks, Nevada has been my primary care physician for almost 17 years. Every visit I have with him involves discussions about some form of healthy living (sun block, exercise, diet, stress), and I am a health person. He tells me he has many diabetic patients who do not control their blood glucose using simple dietary restrictions, exercise, regular montoring and medication use. I am floored by this. If we know what we need to do to control a disease which is potentially fatal, why do we not do it? (A lead into a future post maybe?)
In conclusion, at Custom Physical Therapy I have the priviledge of working with a variety of wonderful people all of whom have different needs. Everyday, there are people who can make small changes in lifestyle and thus have large gains in health. However, such lifestyle changes do not come easy and require motivation. With this post, I am suggesting we use the cost of healthcare as motivation to make the needed changes to become healthier. You will save on healthcare costs down the road as we will only use the expensive healthcare system when we truly need to. Prevention is the word.
YOUR TO DO LIST:
- What one aspect of your lifestyle will you change today to start on the road to a healthier you?
- Post your idea on this blog – I would love to read about it.
- Send this post to someone you would like to join with on the quest to save $$$ by becoming a healthier you.
- Schedule a wellness checkup with your primary care physician – let the doc know your desire to become healthier.
- Be happy and get healthy!