Is Prevention the Way to Drive Down Health Care Costs?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
President Obama recently addressed the joint session of Congress and the American people regarding his health care agenda. Regardless of what political affiliation you ascribe to, the truth is health care costs are spiraling out of control--far surpassing the rate of inflation. This is not a blog about party affiliations--Democrats, Republicans or Independents--but what we, as individuals, can do to take personal responsibility for our own health and the health of our kids.

In a letter addressed to President Obama dated September 11, 2009, from American College of Sports Medicine President, James Pivarnik, Ph.D., he states that "prevention and wellness is much more than just clinical
preventive services and should include initiatives designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including increasing physical activity and improving nutrition." Prevention of disease is clearly one way many of us can help control cost.

We are all aware that obesity increases our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. With our children facing a far bigger challenge with their weight and health than many of us did years ago, if we do not start practicing and teaching prevention, health care costs will only continue to increase at a record setting pace.

Unfortunately we may be losing a generation of kids to diseases which generally afflict older individuals, with cardiovascular disease leading the way. According to research presented at the annual American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans last November, researchers revealed that obese adolescents are presenting to their doctors having the thickness of their artery walls equivalent to those of a middle age adult. Once again reinforcing the notion that if this trend of rising obesity rates and poor health choices is not reversed, our kids will be the first generation never to outlive their parents.

It is essential that we take accountability for our own actions when it comes to our health so that we can be good role models for our kids. According to the United States Surgeon General, 70% of overweight adolescents have the potential to becoming overweight/obese adults. This is why we must teach our children healthy habits early on--when our kids are most impressionable.

If we can offset the rising rate of obesity in this country, this may help defer health care costs, not only now, but for future generations. We have to tackle this issue from all angles, if not, future generations will be forced to deal with adult health issues at an earlier age, therefore compromising their quality of life.

Do you believe prevention plays a big role in helping lower health care costs? What do you do, or have you done to help your kids embrace healthy habits? Do you take these statistics seriously enough to change your child's habits or do you believe these are just scare tactics forcing us to change?

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I agree that prevention can help cut costs. I have chosen to be healthier and to help my kids develop healthier habits also. I do not think this is the only thing that needs to be addressed however, the costs of prescription drugs, office visits, lab tests, etc, can also be controlled. This is a country where everyone has the right, but with rights come responsibilities. We all need to make changes. Report
Preventive behavior will save money, and also importantly improve quiality of life in people who take good care of themselves. For example, when people excercise, eat healthy, and develop other healthy life habits, there will be fewer aches and pains, prevent diabetes, and improved circulation for most. Report
Prevention is definitely the way to lower health care costs, and I completely agree that it starts at home with living healthy lifestyles. I am definitely the poster child for what happens when you ARE NOT healthy (but am hopefully turning things around before PERMANENT damage is done!!!), and I very strongly believe in passing a healthier lifestyle on to my children. Starting with the example I set (such as drinking water, eating fruits and veggies, limiting sweets. . . now I'm working on portion control and my own personal activity level, though my kids more days then not bounce off the walls!), I hope to save them from the turmoil I have had over weight and food. I do think that the gov't can help with this initiative (who's for tax credits for documented weight loss with a health professional?!?!?, or how about incentives for fast food to create more healthy options). Report
Of course! I is smarter to prevent than treat! Prevention & responsibility go hand in hand. I agree with the earlier post. 40,50,60 yrs ago Americans were not overweight and did not have all the health issues that come along with obesity. Why...they ate at home. What ever happened to families cooking at home? If it boils down to ..."I don't have time" ..make time...jeez. The benefits of a healthy meal over fast food outweighs 30-45 minutes of your time. Report
FELIX-C --- Do you suppose the reason that the nurse suggested the medication is that most people will not stick to the diet and exercise solution to high cholesterol, and medical personnel are very aware of this. Everywhere we see people who want the quick and easy solution, medication is one of them... Report
It seems like the more gadgets we have to save time the less time we have. Prevention is good but are we really doing anything to prevent some of the problems. We stop at fast food eat in the car on our way to some activity. As much as I hate to say this things were better in the 50's an 60's. Report
My dear old dad used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The pithy saying is still worth hearing, and using.
The library where I go allows candy, pop, gum, all sorts of junk food. It's crazy.
I know the young children get pre-fab meals in plastic trays for lunch, I think the old cafeteria where food was prepared by cooks and trays were re-used is better for the food and the earth! Report
I believe that prevention plays a HUGE part in improving the health of our society. Unfortunately, the treatment of conditions has a higher priority in our society than preventing conditions, and our society needs to be better educated. As far as lowering health care costs, I believe prevention is an important piece of the puzzle but not the only single solution to rising healthcare fees. Report
Three years ago at my annual checkup, my doctor noticed that I had gained weight and tested my cholesterol. No surprise, it was elevated. When the nurse called to give me the news, her very first comment was, "You should really think about having the doctor put you on a cholesterol-lowering medicine" I said, "No. I'll try diet and exercise first." Yet another example of how the health care system is ruled by the pharmaceutical companies (among others.) As long as the health care system in the United States is for-profit, nothing will change. There is simply too much money to be made. Report
JENCORINNE - just ask an Italian how much they pay in taxes to get that socialized medicine (which, from what I've heard from hubby's NATO co-workers, is actually really great health care).

The way I see it, REAL prevention is definitely key to avoiding health care costs. I'm not talking seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings to avoid a root canal (though regular checkups are definitely a part of taking care of yourself). I'm talking about flossing and brushing your teeth - a twice a year or once a year check up is not going to make up for the other 364 days you didn't floss. It's all about your daily habits, and guess what, the government can't floss your teeth for you. Report
simply put everything is a mess!!!! starts with the farmer and the important place they have in providing nutritious produce, the education system, the budget isn't there to educate proper nutrition. now a days we need a dual income family, home cooked meals are just about extinct. Now we are hearing oranic isn't necessarily better just more expensive. Eating right should not be expensive but at the end of the day no matter what, it always comes down to progress and money. I do believe education should be rewarded but not at the expense of our families health. as much taxes as we all pay, health care should be state covered for all us citizens! that may be nieve for me to say but our loved ones should not suffer to feel someones pocket. i know there are people that don't pay taxes but we are in the land of the free so that is a price we must pay. i would say put them out in the fields but farmers don't even have enough land to work.
yes i do believe preventative maintenance is the key but again many need to educate themselves or be educated. Report
Prevention is the key but responibilty is also the key. Everyday we make choices and it is up to us to make the right ones and help our children do the same. My company provides insurance, but that does not make Healthcare any easier to access. Now my state is considering imposing a fine for people who do not have insurance. Come on now, once again we are penilizing people for being poor. Offer a hand up, not a hand out. Report
to A_better_life and others that think that preventative screening will rise health costs let me tell you MY side. I have Celiac Disease - it is an auto-immune disease that affects 1 in 100 people and starts in the intestines, since every other organ is affected by what goes on in the intestines the rest is affected. It has 1 simple treatment - eat Gluten free for the rest of my life. No pills - so drug companies hate it and try to get Dr's to not test to mis-diagnose other diseases that there are meds for, or so the person develop related diseases that there are meds for.
Despite having insurance most of the past 20+ years I have been undiagnosed till last year after I lost my insurance. Because I was undiagnosed for so long I now have diabetes, thyroid problems, non functioning hypothalamus, depression, vertigo, and caused my brain to be so fuzzy that I didn't finish college so I make less money so can't afford insurance to deal with all these health issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg, amongst other problems I also have a higher chance of all intestinal cancers and osteoporosis. I was fortunate enough to find a Dr that cares about making me healthy again and takes payments.

Versus Italy with "Socialized Medicine" - they test everyone for Celiac. With earlier detection they can follow the Gluten Free diet and not develop other diseases since without gluten the intestines work.

Hmmm, whats makes more sense the simple cost of a blood test now versus paying for diabetes meds, thyroid meds, anti-nausea meds(for the vertigo), cancer treatments, depression meds and so on for the rest of the persons life? Report
Prevention can help with some illnesses but there are others that prevention can't do anything. Controlling it is what you hope you can manage. My daughter and I both have epilepsy. My husband and her both have ADHD. The ADHD is definately a genetic link. The epilepsy the doctors don't think it is genetic just that we were both stressed at birth, which also couldn't be prevented just happened. I also have a strong genetic link for my high Cholesterol, still had it when thin.
Drug companies need to stop charging so much for meds. One of my daughters we have been unable to get in generic for nine months at least, because the generic is on back order. Because she needs a few of them they are costing us $100.00 a month instead of $10.00. That is with having insurance and thank goodness we have a maximum or it would be between $150.00 to $200.00 a month. I'm not saying prevention doesn't help it does but realize at the same time there are people who no matter what will develop health problems, sometimes the genetic link is just stronger, my dad was told that about his high cholesterol. He followed the diet and did all he was suppose to do and still needed a second by pass surgery to by pass the original by passes. First one was a five bypass the second was a triple. Report
Absolutely prevention is the KEY! I have a friend who is over weight and has high blood pressure, so she is on medication. there are many things she eats that causes her stomach she is on medication. She has high cholesterol ... so she is on medication. Really need I go on, I could because she is taking a lot more than just 3 prescription of meds! Report
Preventive medicine as it relates to lowering costs is a hoax, see CBO report dated August 7, 2009.

Living a healthy lifestyle (balanced meals, routine exercise) is key to good health. Doing such is the responsibility of the individual not the government nor insurance companies.

Insurance is unaffordable in some states because of government intervention (state mandates given by politicians to their special interests friends).
"An ounce of prevention" came to mind immediatley when I read this. My concern is how this would be regulated for lack of a better word. Who decides and what penalties or insentives would there be? A Fat Tax? X amount of taxes owed for every pound over weight? And who decides that?
The schools around here have taken out the pop machines and that's a good start. I know in my own family we're at opposite ends of the spectrum, I need to loose weight, my step sons need to gain weight. The poor food choices their mother makes for them (she does not cook. If it doesn't come out of a box, doesn't happen and she doesn't eat veggies at all...) in my opinion contributes to the small stature of the oldest boy especially.
I'm very happy that the fast food restraunts have healthier choices now; that I can go to Wendy's and get a very nice side salad. And education is definatley key. You would think that it would be common sense that consuming high amounts of grease and sugar while not moving any further than the restroom or kitchen would make a person obese. Yet, people have sued McDonald's for that very reason. The I didn't know defense. Report
There are always consequences for any choice; good and bad; therefore, prevention is the key to avoiding poor health, increased hospitalizations, increased doctor visits, increased absenteeism in the work force and school attendance, increased cost. Report
Agree that prevention is the way to go so many of the comments are so good and thought provoking and so true we are a selfish nation who sends billions of dollars overseas when there is a disaster and yet cannot take care of our own people within our shores with the basic needs of life Food Shelter and yes Health Care Report
I absolutely agree that prevention is part of the way to drive down health care costs, but health care for profit will override any savings we see. My Canadian and British friends love their health care systems and can't understand why a country as wealthy as ours is so backward. Report
As a Canadian I have a different perspective on health care issues, but I feel that prevention is the best policy. We need to teach our kids and reteach ourselves that what we do speaks louder than words expecially when it comes to taking care of our bodies. Report
As someone who is uninsured and who, although working a job and a half, cannot afford private health care premiums, which for me are in excess of $1000 a month, this debate has caused me more anguish than anyone can know, unless it is another of the so-called "working poor" who cannot afford health care in this country.

Although I don't always find myself in Dr. Phil's court, there is one thing he said in an ad I saw recently that has become my mantra in this respect: "I don't have a health care plan, but I have a plan for my health."

Every time I get frustrated and feeling like, for some reason, I am a second-class citizen not entitled to even basic preventive care because of my financial status and place of employment, I come back to that. The responsibility of ensuring my health lies ultimately with me. About that, there is no debate. Report
Everyone talks about how health care has gone up, yes that it did, then say that we must work on our children to be wiser with thier choices. Yes school is only 180 days.....but in that half of year...the schools have cut budgets so much that even recess is gone, let alone some of the PE that younger kids need is gone.
They say that kids are more aggressive now...yes they are they have no outlet at school to release that extra energy.

Yes we can teach them right, show them right, but if everyone isn't on the same page as far as activity and prevention we are going to have overweight youth, and adults.
It's a tuff project to tackle in all corners of this issue. costs, awareness, action in staying healthy and everyone agreeing on what is needed. Report
Being fat is no ones fault but our own. Kids are only in school 180 days a year so parents are the ones who need to get their children out to exercise. My kids played OUTSIDE on a trampoline and rode bikes and I took them to JUDO class and to play SOCCER at the "Y", etc. I was the one who bought groceries and had food in the house, it was the SCHOOL LUNCH that was making the difference. WE have to make our own decisions. Mine was to see that my children were NOT fat. My 20 and 22 year old sons are doing TONY HORTON'S P90X work out now. It is awesome and done at home with his 12 DVD's. Adam is so "solid" with muscle, that he is amazing for 20 but he played 4 years of football in high school and had weight training class 5 days a week. Report
Preventive medicine is key to healthier, more productive lives. Granted there are hereditary conditions that occur, but the majority of health problems most people experience could have been prevented. Until every citizen has equal access to healthcare, we will not be the healthy, successful nation we can be.
Kath Report
Prevention is absolutely needed, and it will contribute to dropping costs, but when the CEO of United Healthcare is paid 1.7 billion as compensation, along with other factors, the whole system needs an overhaul. I want people to be covered because I am paying for the uninsured (45,000 million) through my premiums and copays. Also, people not being involved in preventive care, such as immunizations, are a danger to all of us. But like the first poster, what really drives me is my son's best friend growing up. At age 20 he went to the hospital for intestinal pain. He didn't have insurance, and they didn't treat him, so he died in a room to the side, completely alone, of intestinal blockage. That should never happen to anyone. Report
Absolutely. It's not a be all end all. People will still get sick. There are stubborn people now who are refusing to get the H1N1 vaccine not because of the vaccine itself but because of politics. So there will be people who won't take care even when it's available. They ignore the adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's less hassle, for me, to see my doctor for a physical once a year, twice if I need a follow up on blood work, plus the flu shot (and this year the H1N1 shot) than to get sick, miss school, and be miserable in the process. It's also cheaper in general, in terms of lost work-hours, illnesses possibly passed on to others, etc, to prevent getting sick (whether it's a flu, a cancer, heart disease,or something else) Report
Prevention is the ideal way to reduce healthcare costs, but as my doctor says, even some people who eat healthy and exercise still have high cholesterol and other medical problems. So, it is an extremely complex problem - absurd law suits and fraud are some of the major issues that the current bill is not considering. Another thing is that some doctors perform expensive tests that provide a diagnosis that could be found in a less expensive way.

I'm usually pretty outspoken on this issue as I don't believe government control and regulation is always good. One of the major things I have done is look at other countries with nationalized healthcare and compare it to what our goverment is considering. I have even talked to people originally from some of those countries and they are terrified of what our government is considering. Their over-riding comment is that it doesn't work where they are from, so why does our government think it will work here?

No matter your political affiliation, researching the issues in depth is necessary to finding the right answer. Prevention is good, but it won't work for everyone, so what do you do in those cases? Report
Of course prevention is better than paying for the end results of bad health. I had the lap band surgery a few years ago and paid for it myself. My insurance company wouldn't pay for it unless it was already affecting my health. I was almost 300 pounds - but I didn't have diabetes, heart disease, severe joint pain or mobility problems, major lung problems or kidney problems. I didn't want to wait to develop any of those problems, but I was afraid I was on the way - does it make sense to deny people the prevention? Report
of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here's a story of a friend who died recently. I only heard the story after I was notified that she was being buried because I moved away a few years ago.

She had asthma and was being treated with an inhalator but wasn't getting better. She didn't have health insurance and she couldn't afford to see the doctor for follow up. She ended up in intensive care but they couldn't do an internal look at her lungs because they couldn't take her off the oxygen so they put her on a respirator. They found bleeding in her lungs possibly caused by an infection. My other friend who was with while she was dying in the hospital told me that this woman was frantic when they told her that they were putting her on a respirator. They communicated via a white board until a couple of days before she died.

She was only 57 years old. She lost her job a few years ago and couldn't find another one that paid enough so she could sustain herself. She lost her home and was living in a boarding house when she fell ill. She had a BA.

Well, admittedly, I don't know all the details but I can't help but wonder if she had been seen by a doctor before she collapsed, would she still be alive today? She was not a smoker so I'm not sure what sort of prevention would have helped other than the correct diagnosis and medication. The irony is that her last days in the hospital probably cost the taxpayers at least 100K, maybe 200K.

It's very sad because she was a happy, vibrant human being and now she is gone. Report
I am extremely luck as I have 2 very healthy and active adult children. I myself am a healthy active adult who could afford to shed 35-50 pounds. I have been as high as 225 pounds and still healthy and as low as 115 and still healthy. I think having a healthy active lifestyle with food, exercise and good habits void of drugs, cigerattes and alocohol abuse will drive down our personal costs of health care costs (outside of our financial contritbution to either private or employer based policies), however I think the problem with rising costs are far beyond the control of "We The People" and are being controlled by the insurance companies, suppliers of medication, hospitals, malpractice insurance, lawyers and the list goes on so until those rising costs are controlled our costs will continue to rise.... Report
I agree that prevention can reduce health costs. When I was heavier it seemed like I was sick all the time, but since becoming healthier - I haven't seen my doctor in a year now! (I know....I do need to schedule a physical anyway) Report
I agree that prevention can reduce health costs. As a matter of fact, my medicare supplement plan gives me FREE membership to the local fitness center. Apparently they believe that prevention can reduce health costs, too.
Sharlene Report
Prevention is the key. I have always instilled in my kids the value of good health and from a young age I would always buy the healthier product. It is amazing for me to see how they automatically lean towards exercise and healthy foods as they grew older. I am lucky that they listened. Report
OK fine. We should do what we can as individuals and families and prevention (inc diet and exercise) is a big part of that. But a large part of our health care dollars aren't sucked up for no health benefit by private insurance companies, we are all doomed. Single payer is the most popular health care proposal everywhere in this country but in a congress bought and paid for by private healthcare industry profiteers. Report
Of course prevention costs a lot less. I take care of myself..I might have gained weight that I shouldn't...but I have always been healthy and almost never had to go to the doctor. My employer was paying for benefits that I almost never used. But there can be a down side to prevention and that is over prevention. I had a couple friends that were ran to the doctor for every little sniffle, cough, sneeze, watery eye, etc. They are now some of the sickest people I know even with healthy eating thanks to their mom not allowing their bodies to fight off common colds, etc on their own.

For the most part prevention and healthy living is the way to go. But we do have to make sure we do not overdo things to the point that our bodies can't defend itself. Report
it was my anger at a workplace wellness program that made me finally take action Report
"Is Prevention the Way to Drive Down Health Care Costs?" Is this the right place to ask the question? I think the majority of the people who are on SP overwhelmingly will say yes, because 'members' of this site feel the benefit every day.

I large health care organization have promoted employee driven programs for the past couple of years. This has resulted in significant savings in health care expenses, and they continue to find ways to create healthier behavior for their employees. One of the results of the decreased health expenses - the employee part of health insurance did not go up this year. I may also add - which I don't think they have data for - healthier employee's will result in happier employees which in turn affect 'productivity'.

We all know the JFK saying of 'ask not what your country can do for you ..." I think we SP'ers should use that concept and ask what can I do to decrease health care cost. Well, continue what you do and find someone else you can influence to live a healthier lifestyle and let the movement start that way.

What people do not want to hear - this is not about insurance companies, this is not about doctors and nurses, this is not about politicians ... this is about you, me, our next door neighbor, our family and friends. YOU are the health care reform. Look at you when you started - look at you now .... Report
I am obese because I eat for taste. The food industry and restaurants keep making tastier morsels to tempt me, and I fall for it every time. As a kid, we didn't have junk food. But, as an adult my choices were not always wise. Now, I'm paying the price and prevention could have avoided many problems. Americans need to know all SP has to teach, be aware of our food chain pitfalls, and fully understand the long term consequences of poor diet choices. Maybe the Home Extension offices could do a better job of educating adults about diet and health. Let's bailout obese Americans with money spent on prevention to avoid Medicare and Medicaid from going broke. Report
Considering the state of health care in this country, prevention is certainly my path of choice. Thankfully, I have always been very healthy and I work at keeping it that way. Report
Absolutely. It is common sense that prevention is ONE key to improved health, and thus, to bringing down healthcare costs. I believe that health is a two-way street. While we cannot and should not depend on our governments to do this for us, this is one of the reasons we have a government--to serve as a safety net to citizens for basic needs such as health. As a teacher and trainer, I understand the Abraham Maslow's theory of motivation, which is that if one doesn't have one's basic needs taken care of first (health, safety, shelter, food), one cannot go on to become a self-actualizing individual. What we need in America is more self-actualization. Report
Yes! Prevention is important. Kids like adults learn that food is a comfort from their pains, so an SP education would help. Poverty also contributes to wrong food choices, but here again SP shows diet plans featuring foods with reasonable costs.
. I think the government contributed to the problem by creating the workplace group insurance with employers contributions a tax deduction to them. Insurance companies could do a good business without focusing on the individuals that did not fall in that buying group. Which individuals did not fall in that group? The elderly, those whose health caused them to lose their jobs, those whose employer did not offer insurance, and the dependents of those whose employer did not offer insurance. So after offering tax breaks in a system that skewed the market to the young in good health, the government still had to offer some help to those who had been excluded.
I think tests contribute to health care costs. My dentist recently referred me to a gum specialist for a biopsy. The specialist thought it was lichen plantis, fairly common with unknown causes. He said avoid sodium laureth or sodium laurate sulfates and spicy foods. I refused the biopsy and said I would see if that helped. $110 for the advice. Four months later I saw my regular dentist who said it was 100% better, but not good enough if that was all it was. So back to the specialist. $230 office call for the biopsy. The bill for the lab work was sent to the insurance as possibly being covered. Results: lichen plantis as suspected. I was supposed to feel better because now I knew for sure it wasn't something else. I don't think so. That was a big investment for me when other have ongoing upkeeps: vision care, the car, the house, and a cat with allergies. In short doctors don't doctor like they used to. They refer you to specialists, who don't do anything without running tests. Perhaps this is better, but it is more expensive.
Last but not least, I know people who constantly go to doctors because they have good insurance. One lady I know, who regularly sees specialists for minor complaints, is on a very expensive psoriasis treatment that requires approval before the doctor can even prescribe it. The doctor has told her that her case is very mild, but gave in to her constant complaining and ordered the shots. Report
Yes prevention is important. I have had health insurance that would pay for part of my gym membership and other measures to provide with healthy living - including helping you quit smoking etc. Unfortuanately as employers look for cutting cost they will change health insurance carriers to keep costs down. Not all insurance companies believe in making prevention a priority.

I have also had my costs driven up because although my doctor knew exactly what was wrong with me my insurance company stated I had to go through several other proceedures first. I have had my doctors fight the insurance companies and explain to them why I need a test and I have have to fight to get payment. Insurance companies need to be reeled in. Report
The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" hits the nail right on the head. That said, it is very difficult in the real world for people who are struggling to pay their bills, with no health care but the emergency room, to make sure their children are eating properly. This is a huge job that needs to involve the government, the educational system, and the health care industry, and each individual citizen. There are no simple solutions and those looking for a quick easy fix will be greatly disappointed. However, I do not believe anything will happen until it is a real crisis, that seems to be the way humans act which is very sad. Report
I believe that prevention is the key to cutting cost! We all need to be held accountable for our personal choices and habits. Our personal habits accounts for a good portion of the increases in certain diseases today.

I also think that the health care industry needs to be held accountable for the outrageous cost they charge. It is absolutely rediculous the amount of money that we are charged for an office visit. We spend over an hour or 2 wait to see the doctor for 10 to 15 min.

The hospitals are outrageos as well. The price that people are charged for medicines, test, procedures, and etc. is just highway robbery. I think that everyone be held accountable. Report
If it were only that simple. Unfortunately, there is more to prevention than just the common sense things individuals can do on their own. One of the reasons healthcare is so expensive is that doctors, hospitals, scientists have more preventative measures than ever before to prevent disease and forestall it's consequences. Think of all the illnesses that only 50 years ago claimed lives because there was no known cause, treatment, or way of preventing it.

The exhorbitant costs of healthcare in the U.S. is a multi-faceted crisis. Everyone needs to exert more discipline. Medical professionals, pharmaceutical giants, insurance companies, manufacturers of medical equipment, hospitals and other care facilities, all need to be less greedy. Internists and family physicians in my neck of the woods are charging $200 - $300 for a routine follow-up visit of approximately 10-15 minutes and consisting of checking your bp, listening to your heart & lungs, and asking you if there is anything else that is of any concern. I was recently referred to an oncologist/hematologist to determine what might be causing a very mild form of anemia, and he billed the insurer over $2,000 for the office visit and blood/blood cell analysis. We've all heard the many excuses made for the necessity of all these costs, for example, the $20 Tylenol capsule the hospital dispensed to you for a headache following surgery. Give me a break!

These entities don't want the U.S. to have a competing socialized medical plan available, even on the limited basis of what has been proposed, because, quite frankly, they are afraid they'd have to eliminate all the waste, corruption, greed. If the U.S. insists on remaining the only civilized country in the world without any substantive form of socialized healthcare, we are guaranteed to fall further behind. It has been very plain for almost a century now that the entire healthcare system here is far from the free enterprise, competitive, supply & demand environment it wants us to believe it is. In this case, the consumer, or patient, has no bargaining power whatsoever and the system as it stands keeps draining the life out of us all. Time for Uncle Sam to put his foot down and regulate them just like we regulate other industries. Report
Of course prevention is the key. We need to take responsibility for ourselves.
If only all health care plans saw it that way. A gym membership is cheaper than a hospital stay. Of course you'd till have to go!! Report
Prevention is the only way to decrease costs. Unfortunately, it may come down to forcing people to be responsible. I understand in California some insurance companies refuse you coverage unless you are within a certain weight range. How many people because of that have gotten their acts together. Expand the program to all 50 states. If we expect coverage we must meet the companies and our bodies half way. And yes, responsibility works both ways, I expect accountability from these insurance companies that have literally gotten away with murder. They must be forced to account for their actions when refusing care. Criminal charges should be brought up when their negligience contributes to worsening illness or death. Report
Prevention is key and we need to educate our children and not the government! They need to stay out! Almost all of the senate and congress are lawyers. They have helped drive up the health care cost! lets kick them all out and get new people in! I am sick and tired of how lawyers have driven the cost of many things up! Report
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