Watching the American health system operate is like watching a game of Whack-A-Mole: a symptom pops up, a doctor smacks it down. Another one pops up and whack! It goes down. Up again, down again, over and over. Unfortunately, it is a game in which the patient seldom wins.
The US spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world, and what we get in exchange is obesity, autism and a mind-boggling collection of addictions and chronic illnesses. Our overall health ranks 70th among 132 other nations. Something’s not working and it’s time for a change, but the machine that powers Whack-A-Mole will not turn off. It seems that someone wants to continue this game.
Here’s something we should never forget: Healthcare in America is run by corporations. Political lobbying alone costs medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies over 50 million bucks a year. They need to make that money back.
This may explain why the American Medical Association wages such a relentless battle against alternative and preventive medicine — they are protecting their turf, and this war has been successful. The hard-won Affordable Care Act does not cover services for holistic or complementary treatments. This insurance only covers pills and procedures that are sanctioned by the FDA. Patients are not given a choice.
People love to blame the doctors, but I’ve met many with good intuition and skills. They can be stifled in a system dictated by bureaucratic protocol and billing codes. Those who don’t follow procedure find themselves open to litigation or out of a job. Patients walk into offices demanding a pill. If that doctor won’t give them one, they find one who will. In a symptom-based system, this generates a lot of sales.
On the midways of mainstream medicine, the game of Whack-A-Mole continues, the plop, plop of mallets on soft furry heads. The money keeps coming in, fueling corporations that have tendrils threaded deep into the soil of this country. If the plug was yanked, lights would blink off all across America.
Yet the health of a people is not determined by symptoms alone. We are not simply bodies; we have hearts and minds. We are affected by the air we breathe, the streets we walk and most of all, by what we believe. We need to believe in something better. A lot of self-perpetuating crap has gotten caught in our heads.
We trust our lives too blindly to the hands of the system. Science and technology have made amazing advancements, but people are still human — they err. A 2014 study on patient safety found as many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical damage in hospitals. And patients themselves defy logic. You can patch us up and send us home, and we will just go out and screw ourselves up again. We ignore directions. We live like fools. The wisdom of natural healers is sorely needed to keep us on course. Diet and nutrition are not required training for Western doctors; they need to know when to yield the floor.
America in 2015 is not a society that supports the notion that each individual is responsible for their own health. We are held responsible for buying a lot of stuff and paying our bills. What we do to keep going is our business. The cash that is made from the clean-up is theirs.
We are not stupid, but we are sleep deprived. Whacked into submission, with whispers and lies.
We can be so much more than that.