Tuesday, February 23, 2010

National Geographic

If you happen to run across National Geographic magazine from last month (January 2010) be sure to look at the article on health care. It has a great graphic comparing several countries on health costs, life expectancy, even frequency of doctor visits. I must confess I had a hard time locating the United States when I first looked at the graph. Our costs are so high that it was above the text, far removed from the rest of the world. It presents a very clear picture of America's health care problem.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More FDA Troubles

Has anyone missed the news reports in the past week about the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Avandia? It's just the latest chapter in the FDA's troubled attempts to regulate safety in prescription drugs.

This episode involves the diabetes medication Avandia from GlaxoSmithKline. The flap was ignited by reports linking it to 304 deaths in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The New York Times reported that if every patient taking Avandia were to switch to a similar drug called Actos about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month. Naturally the manufacturer continues to claim that the drug is safe since sales were $3.2 billion in 2006.

Meanwhile more trials are underway while the FDA continues to abdicate its responsibility to protect the health of Americans. The current TIDE study isn't even scheduled to be completed until 2020. How many thousands will die as a result of this bureaucratic ineffectiveness?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happiness Is Healthy

A new study from Columbia University shows that happiness contributes to better health. In 1995 they measured the happiness of 1,700 adults in Canada with no heart problems using a 5-point scale. Ten years later they discovered that for every point on their happiness scale people were 22% less likely to have a heart problem.

Experts say that happiness results in a healthier heart because it avoids the negative health effects of other conditions like stress and depression. Research has shown that stress releases hormones that can damage heart muscle and depression has long been associated with heart problems.


Remember, it's not what happens to you in life, it's how you react to it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Government by the Checkbook

How much was spent on lobbying during the past session of Congress? Would you believe about $3.5 billion? To put it in perspective that's about half of what the government will spend on the entire federal court system.

It's no surprise that health care reform was the hot topic. Pharmaceutical companies and other health care manufacturers spent $267 million, the most ever spent by a single industry in a year. Business associations were next spending $183 million.

Remember when it was government by the people and for the people?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Health Costs Rising

Last year 17.3% of our nation's economy involved health care, about $2.5 trillion. The jump in health care's share of GDP was the largest one-year increase since the government began keeping records on it 50 years ago.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also predicted that for the first time government programs will account for more than half of all U.S. health care spending next year, or 50.4% The weak economy is slowing the growth of private insurance and sending more folks into Medicaid. Just last year they predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2016.

Baby Boomers begin turning 65 next year, a sign that America's aging population will continue to require more medical care even as they live longer. Meanwhile health care reform efforts in Congress are stalled as partisan bickering continues to delay any real change in the current situation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cost of Change

So how was your year in 2009? Yes, your stock portfolio saw a nice rise after the crash of '08 but how was your income? Are you making a lot more now than you did before? For most industries last year was flat at best as the recession continues to drag on. What does this have to do with health care? I believe that change will come because it has to, we can't afford to keep the current system.

According to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services health care costs increased 4.4% in 2008. Pricewaterhouse Cooper's Health Research Institute estimates costs increased 5.5% in 2009. We've got it much worse here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area where estimates are the costs rose 12.3% in 2009 according to the most recent data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the state of the current economy our nation simply cannot afford to keep on the same health care path we've been going down for decades.

One option is Integrative Medicine with its focus on prevention instead of treatment. You might enjoy the new podcast featuring Dr. Eleanor Hynote, President/CEO of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). Podcast.