It’s possible that your healthcare system will kill you. What?
This might sound outrageous but read on.
In most of the western world, healthcare is free at point of service and is paid through public taxation. However, the perception is typically that the health service is free.
This is the scenario in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and most of Europe. Although hybrid systems may exist, ultimately if you want to see a doctor, there’s no bill at the end, or invoice before to consider. If you have heart surgery, it’s the same.
In stark contrast, the USA doesn’t have this system and it’s commonplace for a medical bill to be presented after treatment, or prior to treatment. Of course, medical insurance exists but it’s expensive compared to most western countries and the cost is really felt by the service user. Whilst I don’t want to appear to be bashing the USA, the system is on the verge of bankruptcy and only propped up by an infinite loop of increasing prices e.g. a drug that costs $1 in France will be sold for $1 whereas in the USA it might be $150 to offset the insurance premium etc.
So why is free healthcare a problem?
Perception of responsibility is a big deal here.
If healthcare is free in your country, then surely if you get sick then you just use the service, simple stuff.
But what if by the time you come to use the service, you’re ‘beyond repair’. This is a very common scenario when treated by most healthcare systems.
With free healthcare systems, the typical mindset of the general population is that health isn’t something to be overly concerned with because it’s up to the health service to look after you should you become ill.
And they do, somewhat, but what if you had to directly pay the bill if you needed medical help?
How would this change your attitude towards your health?
Attitudes & Mindsets
With the attitude that a healthcare system is there for you, when you need it, with no bill – it’s very easy to see how the burden of trust can sit with the healthcare service.
It provides a very nice comfy safety net, but it has a lot of problems. Free leads to abuse, in every public service.
Very few people set out to abuse their national health care service, but in reality, that is exactly what happens. There’s almost no accountability, and this allows a lack of awareness to prevail. Consider a typical GP doctor’s appointment, you go there, see a doctor for 10-15 minutes and typically leave. There’s no bill, and there’s also no accountability. 95% of primary care appointments are purely to discuss adjusting medications or prescribing new ones… a costly business…
Yet there’s been a cost to the health service. The receptionist has to be paid, the building rates have to be paid, the doctor has to be paid. And if you received a prescription (you very likely did), then the pharmacist, dispenser and drug company have to be paid.
Now, the point of this isn’t to suggest you should think twice before visiting your doctor; the point is to make you think,
Could I have done anything to avoid this problem?
How can I best implement the advice I have been given to avoid having to use the service again?
Yes, the service is free at the point of use, but the costs are enormous. Very few people think about this, ever.
If you go beyond primary care and consider procedures such as bypass surgery, which is now commonplace (this is just absurd), the costs are enormous. Hundreds of thousands of £/$/€’s on doctors’ visits, hospital fees, surgeons, food, logistics, equipment and then typically a lifetime of medication. (For those who survive the procedure).
Healthcare must be viewed as a cost far beyond health because it is.
But what’s the point?
The point of this post is to raise awareness of preventative medicine, not last-resort medicine.
The medical profession is extremely talented and well-resourced in most western countries, but this may not continue to be the case if people continue to abuse (unknowingly) the system.
The goal here is to start to think about what changes you can make to your lifestyle yourself to avoid needing to rely on public health indefinitely. Absolutely, the service is there and in case of a medical emergency, this is a truly wonderful asset to have.
However, with the average age for a heart attack decreasing year on year, and the same for cases of type 2 diabetes, and the average lifespan increasing due to increased reliance on medication, the system is extremely strained.
There has to be a shift towards self-care. The single most powerful tool we all have available to us is the freedom to choose what we eat, and this is the single most influential factor on our health – especially our long-term health.
Taking responsibility for your health increases your quality of life, and typically quantity too. It’s that important.
The choice to think about is whether you want to live out your last decade happy and healthy (contributing to society) or in a care home, unhappy (costing society). The choices you make now will impact these outcomes as the data is showing us.
Think carefully about your health; you likely have a lot more influence over it than you think.
The false sense of security
The reality is this. No healthcare system can bring you back from the dead.
Even if healthcare is free, consider other costs. Loss of earnings, stress on you, on your family, these ‘uninsured losses’ are time and emotion you can never change.
Free healthcare lures people into a false sense of security. It’s great to have, but think of the bigger picture, and aim to avoid ever using it!
Healthcare systems at the point of service contribute to killing people by allowing a lack of awareness. The United States has often been referred to as the fattest sickest country on the planet, but actually, much of Europe and Australia is set to surpass the USA. (At some stage – likely due to the collapse of the
The United States will vote with their insurance companies and coverage will become more expensive which forces a change in thinking somewhat. The ‘free’ healthcare systems battle on with more timid messages to promote better public health. This approach often leaves people beyond the point of no return in many cases.
Other important considerations
If you had to pay for all healthcare and treatments would you choose your state healthcare provider?
Most people probably would, simply out of convenience, loyalty, or because ‘that’s what most people do’.
But what about all the alternative healthcare and medicine out there? The work that falls outside of mainstream healthcare. The acupuncture, the healers, therapists, nutritionists, and so on… Even this organisation, Intelligent Eating, is considered alternative healthcare.
Would you choose those if you didn’t have to pay?
What about if you were suffering from depression and you had the choice of laughter therapy versus taking an antidepressant drug for the rest of your life?
When considering your health, your most important asset, the cost really should be the last factor influencing your decision.
Think about universal healthcare as there for those who really need it, the man with rare cancer, the car crash survivor, or the girl with a young baby experiencing complications. The future of the health service in the UK, and any other country isn’t going to be defined by cost-cutting procurement measures, Brexit, government, management, or any other factor other than the health of the nation. We all have a burden of responsibility to ensure these precious resources are there in times of need.
Free healthcare paradoxically limits people’s choices. You have the choice to treat your health in whichever way you want, and sometimes the free system isn’t the best, and in worse cases, it’s the worst option.
All my love,