Articles by JCS
Drive It ‘til It Breaks
JC Smith, MA, DC
I love to drive my 1968 Karman Ghia, which is a small 4-cylinder sports car made by Volkswagen that is no longer in production. It’s fun to drive and looks great for being over 30 years old, but like most old cars, needs repairs regularly. Recently there was a loud new noise coming from the front end whenever I turned the steering wheel. So, I took it to my VW mechanic for his diagnosis.
Of course, when he drove it, nothing happened. So he couldn’t tell me what was wrong and finally suggested, “Just drive it ‘til it breaks. Then we’ll know what’s wrong.”
Makes sense to me although it’s not a very assuring way to find out what the problem is. I hope a wheel doesn’t fall off or my steering mechanism doesn’t break. I’ll let you know what happens, if I survive, that is.
Indeed, it’s hard to prevent or solve a problem when you don’t know what causes it, and it’s scary to wait for the inevitable doom. And the same is true for your health problems. Realistically, how many folks know what the co-factors of good health are? What causes a heart attack, a back attack or a fat attack remains a mystery to most Americans. Although 10% of folks are “health nuts,” the other 90% aren’t interested in preventing much of anything. In fact, they’ll drive their bodies until they break of something.
Consider some facts in 2000 from the World Health Organization that reviewed the health care situation in the 191 nations in the United Nations. The results for the United States were shocking. We ranked #1 in expenditures for health care—we spend over one trillion dollars, which equates to almost 15% of our GNP, more than any other country. Although we spend the most for healthcare, our health care delivery system ranked 37th in the world and, even more surprising, our overall health ranked 72nd in the world.
Imagine if the US ranked 72nd in terms of national defense, public education, or standard of living? The outcry would be deafening, especially since we’re spending the most of any other country. Indeed, we’re not getting much bang for our buck in health care.
Now we’re reading that health insurance rates are going up faster than the cost of living. According to an article by Ron Winslow in The Wall Street Journal (September 27, 2001) titled "U.S. Workers Stand to Pay More for Health Care," the future of health costs is not pretty.
“Employers are under increasing pressure to shift more health-care costs onto their workers. Some workers -- especially those at smaller companies facing health-premium increases of 20 percent to 30 percent or more for 2002 -- may not be able to afford the increases and may be forced to drop coverage for themselves and their families.
“The average family premium for those with employer-sponsored insurance is now about $7,000 per year, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change. The center says that spending for hospital care -- not prescription drugs -- accounted for the largest share of overall healthcare costs last year. But prescription drug costs have continued to escalate -- growing by 15 percent last year and accounting for 27 percent of the overall rise in health-care costs.
“Employees could be asked to assume higher co-payments for doctor and hospital visits or they may be required to pay a larger portion of insurance premiums. Experts say that the shift can be traced to the need for employers to pare their costs of doing business in order to survive the current faltering economy.”
Not only are future health care costs not pretty, but also our future health statistics are nothing to crow about either. Considering Americans presently rank 72nd in overall population health, how will we rank when the junk phood generation X become adults? After a lifetime of playing video games, eating junk phoods, drinking soda pops, taking Ritalin and street drugs, smoking, never-ending vaccinations and medications, I doubt this Pepsi generation will have much to show for themselves except they will lead the world in every category of chronic, degenerative diseases. Believe me, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet until the generation X’s poor health habits come to fruition.
Unless you and your family have the will power to resist the modern temptations of junk phoods and quick-fix solutions of our drug society, you can expect more of the same. Sadly, the “drugs-or-surgery-for-whatever-ails-you” mentality just hasn’t worked to make Americans healthier, although it certainly has made the medical-drug complex very wealthy. If all it takes to get well is taking drugs, with the amount of drugs in our society, no one should ever be sick. But they are, and only getting sicker.
Indeed, if ranking 72nd in the world doesn’t convince you, what will? If anyone needs to think out of the box for new solutions, it’s Americans when it comes to their health care problems.
I urge you to develop a Health Plan just as you’ve developed a savings plan, a retirement plan, an education plan, or a vacation plan, help yourself by investing time and effort into a health plan that features the ounces of prevention instead of relying upon the pounds of medical cures. If you’ve attended my Health Class, you’re aware of my model, but if you haven’t had the opportunity, let me summarize it for you.
This Health Plan is a good start to getting well, naturally. Instead of taking more drugs and having more surgeries, I suggest you change your lifestyle by incorporating these effective methods. It’s not too late to change your course, plus it will cost you less in the long run by staying healthy. Remember: Once you lose your good health, it’s difficult to regain.
So, you really have two choices: Either believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or drive it ‘til it breaks. The choice is yours since you’re your own doctor, so what will it be? Do you have a Health Plan that works? If not, come by my office and hear my Health Class on Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30pm. I’ll teach you how to prevent a back attack, a heart attack and a fat attack.