Being one of the most populated, powerful nations on the planet, it may come as no surprise that the United States spends a vast amount on health care. The country actually shells out more than any other – 17% of the US economy goes on health care. New data from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows a jaw-dropping, mind-boggling amount of money was spent in 2015: $3.2 TRILLION.
The study examines what patients and insurers spent their money on in 2013 by looking into three groups: diseases, patient age and category. We spend the most money on diabetes, a highly-preventable disease that the American public dropped $101 billion on in 2013. Second most costly are heart disease ($88 billion) and back and neck pain (also $88 billion).
Across two decades it’s revealed that spending on diabetes and back/neck pain has risen 6%. For diabetes, approximately 50% of money spent on diabetes goes toward pharmaceuticals – likely insulin, statins, and other cholesterol-lowering drugs. All of this despite the fact that plenty of peer-reviewed research exists proving the efficacy of other methods for reversing diabetes – typically diet.
Overall, more spending is done on the elderly with 38% of personal health spending in 2013 for people over the age of 65. However, for lower back and neck pain around 70% of that spending was on working age adults.
“Data like this continues to draw attention to the fact a lot of these proposals being discussed about controlling health-care costs really don’t address the underlying issue, which is rising disease prevalence,” said Ken Thorpe, a professor of health policy at Emory University who was not involved in the study but has done similar research. “You see this rise in chronic disease spending – much of it is potentially preventable.”
The notion of preventing disease is paramount when discussing diabetes and heart disease. Both are treatable with a number of options that don’t involve expensive pharmaceuticals with potentially harmful side effects. Nutrition is key when combating diabetes; a low-carbohydrate plan like the ketogenic diet lowers blood sugars without causing any unwanted side effects.
The way we practice Traditional Chinese Medicine at the clinic involves these types of preventative measures. Our methods of treatment do involve addressing chronic conditions, yet there are many diseases that can be avoided altogether if the patient remains pro-active in his or her health. Instead of waiting until it’s too late, and the only path to restoring your health is by drastic measures (drugs, surgery), take the time to consider what you can do to achieve optimal health today.
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