A Case of Need

The healthcare system in the United States is begging for solutions. Rampant cost increases, a bureaucracy and insurance system that, despite intentions, focuses resources and decisions in directions that maintain the status quo at best and are actually deterimental to health in many cases, have put our healthcare system in an unsustainable position. The addition of an explosion in lifestyle related and otherwise preventable disease that accounts for nearly 70% of our nation’s $2.7 Trillion healthcare spending further illustrates the need for substantive change in the way people look at making decisions regarding their health and healthcare.

For acute illnesses or traumas, there is no better place to be than in the United States. Investment in and availability of the latest technology and knowledge for treating acute conditions is second to none.

Unfortunately, if one is seeking the resources, access and knowledge to effect a preventative, wellness focused strategy in a way that pays dividends on both financial investment and quality of life, the current system simply isn’t set up to accommodate such a person.

Who’s to Blame?

The truth about who is to blame provides both dismay and, ultimately, hope. There is both no one to blame and everyone to blame. With the exception of a few, although influencial, entities motivated by maintaining a lucrative advantage in a broken system, most of the problems can be traced primarily to consequences of the system, whether intended or all-too often, unintended.

Health care providers, insurers, and consumers, whether individual or group, are all making decisions based upon the current system.

In order to describe the current situation there needs to be a starting point which in this case will be the health care providers. In reality it is apparent that this is a circular system with a complexity that is extremely resistant to change. Consideration of these complexities and their consequences suggest the need for a paradigm shift.

Health Care Providers

A patient calls her primary care doctor to schedule an appointment. It takes two weeks to get an appointment because the doctor’s schedule is full and the patient is advised to go to the ER if she has an urgent concern. In a free market world of supply and demand a shortage of doctor appointments should cause the price to rise so that two things happen: 1) Some people decide that they’re not in fact sick enough to warrant an appointment and more importantly; 2) More doctors (supply) choose to become primary care physicians because the rewards now make it more worthwhile to do so.

In the present system, this is not what happens. In reality, primary care physicians made about 25% less in 2006, before any adjustment for inflation, than they did in 1996. Yet all the expense of becoming and remaining a physician have risen by an amount that usually exceeds that of inflation. The net result is that the financial reward for being a primary care physician is declining in most cases. We’ve all heard and experienced being treated “like a number”. Thirty minutes in the waiting room, $30 co-pay, 15 minutes in the exam room, 4 and half minutes with the doctor and you leave with a prescription for one or more pharmaceuticals that treat the symptoms you’ve described. Rarely is anything done to address the underlying cause of a symptom… and over 70% of illnesses have been shown to have preventable, and often, reversible causation.

Most physicians make their career path decisions with at least some expectation of being able to truly help and hopefully cure many of their patients. It is not their intentions that relegate them to the average 4.5 minutes spent per patient where symptoms are treated “by the numbers”. The primary causes are based within the regulatory and financial system in which most primary care practitioners find themselves. With increasing costs and falling reimbursement rates, a practice has a minimum number of office visits that it must bill for every day in order to survive as a business entity. Medicare regulations and negotiated insurance contracts make charging more for a more in-depth visit difficult at best. If an office accepts insurance and spends too much time with each patient then that business will ultimately fail.

Additional pressure arrives in the form of liability. Rising malpractice premiums and the devastating results of malpractice lawsuits force the physician to “follow the numbers” in order to have some semblence of protection. Health care providers often feel compelled to practice “Defensive Medicine”. The overweight patient with borderline high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol’s best chance at a cure is a lifestyle change that includes modified diet and activity. The best treatment plan may include explanations of this along with a plan to evaluate again in a few weeks in hopes of avoiding the prescription of pharmaceuticals. This best treatment plan cannot be explained, let alone developed, within the typical 4.5 minutes available. Often the physician feels sending the patient away with a prescription for a blood thinner and a statin along with an admonition to “eat healthier and get more exercise” is a safer course to take than risking the legal ramifications of not “following the numbers” should something go wrong.

Insurers

Most insurers are for-profit business entities and like any such entity a requirement for continued existence is the ability to take in more revenue then they spend on expenses. A majority of these companies are also publicly traded corporations with a legal obligation to make their best efforts to maximize shareholder return, including growth. Claiming that the problem with insurance is that these often extremely profitable companies are greedy misses the mark. Maximizing profit in an ethical and fair business sense is not only their jobs but their legal obligation. A private or non-profit company can return as much of their profit as they want to anyone they wish. A public company has to either return its profit to its shareholders or invest it in a way that can be reasonably expected to benefit the shareholders at a later date.

Common sense would indicate that insurers might realize higher profits if they were to strongly promote and reward healthy lifestyle practices, thereby lowering the incidence of chronic, preventable disease. The reality is that under the current system most insurance is purchased by employers and since employees trend to changing jobs (and insurance plans) approximately every 2 years, there is little incentive for an insurer to invest in the long term health of its clients.

As healthcare costs, especially those associated with acute care, continue to rise, premium prices necessary to provide coverage of those risks along with acceptable profit also rise. Additional costs can be attributed to a movement from simply distributing risk of unexpected costs to the current situation of distributing costs where many planned procedures and events are expected to be covered in addition to the unexpected occurances.

Consumers

As consumers people tend to make decisions based on comparing cost versus perceived value. The complexity of the current healthcare system, combined with market forces that naturally align with the concentration of potential revenue, results in a skewed decision basis.

Insurance is most effective when applied to shield the relative few from the full costs of the unexpected or unlikely misfortune or accident. Insurance is most effective when covering things like broken bones, cancer or non-elective surgery. As unsettling as these needs are, they remain fortunately, relatively infrequent with respect to the overall population – many more people will never need surgery or a cast in a given time period than those who will – so it is relatively inexpensive to insure the group against these unlikely events.

The effectiveness of insurance begins to break down when it is used to cover treatments for chronic conditions. Especially when more and more people are added to the list of those needing care for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and other diet/lifestyle related diseases. If 1 in 10 people can expect to require care for a chronic condition, then each person in the insurance pool can expect to pay a little more than 10% of the potential cost for that care. As that number rises, especially with largely preventable diseases, the amount an individual can expect to pay as insurance rises as well. At some point a number is reached where individuals engaged in a preventative lifestyles no longer perceive the same value of insurance against chronic disease. As risk and prices rise, people willing to invest in healthier lifestyles will tend to drop out of the insurance pool. As healthier people drop out of the insurance pool, the cost of insurance rises even more to keep pace with the increased percentage of those who will experience chronic disease.

Where insurance really starts to make no sense is when it is used to cover most planned expenses like annual primary care check-ups or visits for minor injuries or illnesses. Auto insurance isn’t expected to provide for windshield wipers or tires or fuel but health insurance is expected to pay for check-ups and any minor office visit. Minimal efforts at prevention mean that insurers may somewhat subsidize regular office visits to keep out-of-pocket costs down, but since there is little return for the profit motivated insurer the burden is split between reduced compensation for the provider and increased co-pays for the consumer.

Because insurance is often bundled and included in a workplace compensation plan, consumers rarely have the opportunity to consider the overall cost of their insured healthcare. If they did, they might be surprised and seek alternatives since co-pays and deductibles are added to the average $8,000 – $12,000 or more spent per person on yearly premiums.

Are We Getting the Whole Message?

Since pharmaceuticals and expensive procedures are very profitable, a great deal of money is spent communicating the benefits of these healthcare products. With literally billions being spent convincing healthcare professionals and consumers of the effectiveness of pharmceuticals and virtually nothing being spent convincing either of options that have no obvious profit center, it is natural that the acknowledged standard is somewhat lopsided.

Overwhelming communication of pharmceuticals effectiveness is reinforced by their ability to actually dramatically improve the measured areas of the disease symptoms. Blood pressure improves, cholesteral numbers are better and blood sugar stabilizes, but rarely has anything been done to address the underlying cause of the disease yet the consumer, or now, patient, goes away secure in the belief that the best course of action has been taken.

In most cases only the symptoms have been addressed and often the consumer, armed with the not-quite-accurate knowledge that the problem has been dealt with, is even less likely to pursue the lifestyle or behavioral changes necessary to prevent or reverse the underlying disease cause. This can result in a worsening of the disease state and the resultant worsening of symptoms requiring more and more pharmaceutical and procedural intervention…but still no curative measures.

The best means of limiting this cycle is better knowledge of the realities and cost/value relationships of lifestyle and diseases. The consumer must find other sources of information, knowledge and motivation in order to balance that produced by the obvious profit centers communication efforts.

One of the most effective sources would be the patient’s primary care physician…but conveying that kind of information in 4.5 minutes is extremely difficult.

So we’re back to where we began.

But Elite Integrative has the solution.

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Be a Superstar!!

Leaders, successful business people and athletes strive toward achieving something.

 They go for it!

What do you want to achieve?  What effort have you put into something to succeed!  What are you willing to commit in order to achieve your goals?

How can we take that mind set and put it towards our health when maybe to some it is not instant gratification?  It may take a while to see the results, but hey, it’s your body that you live in 365 days of the years 24/7…it’s time to treat it with respect.

Fear based health care like western medicine obviously isn’t always successful for long term results.  What are you afraid of?  Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes?  These are all potentially preventable diseases but reacting to fear driven talk from physicians does not work.  Changing your perspective can and often does work.

“Champions are people who do more than they have too!” – C. M.

Do it for yourself,  for your health,  for your family, for your community.  Do it for your state, for your country. 

People everyday fight for their country and lose their lives for what they believe in….freedom.

Why wouldn’t you fight for yourself? 

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Exercise

What is it that you like to do when it comes to exercise?

There is a plethora of choices when it comes to getting yourself moving…

Outdoors – hiking, biking, swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, running, group outdoor exercise, basketball, soccer.

Indoors – gyms with everything at your fingertips: weights, cardio, classes and more. 

Not a fan of gyms?  Well bring it home on a DVD!  They have everything from dance, yoga, and weights  to plyometrics, boxing and more.  Or pick up an Xbox Kinect Nike+ program that evaluates your movements as it guides you in exercise!

No Excuses…your body is made to move…Just Do It!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit”  – Aristotle
 

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Escape Fire Movie

This movie was aired twice on CNN, won several awards and is a must see!  www.escapefiremovie.com  The film gives a great snapshot of the multiple level issues facing the U.S. healthcare system.  Among many issues, the movie looks at the importance of prevention and how preventable diseases (cardiac, diabetes, obesity) are a major problem.  I’ve been in the trenches of the U.S. healthcare system and if we start being more accountable for ourselves like making good eating choices, exercising more and learning how to decrease stress, we too can be apart of the change…check it out!

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds” – Albert Einstein

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Do What Inspires You!!!!

Why not!

Shouldn’t you follow your heart and do what you like to do?  Following your inner desires leads you to be happy as yourself. You will continue to grow and become your best!

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up” –  Paul Valery

Check it out…

Suggested Books:

  • “Inspiration Deficit Disorder” by Jonathan H. Ellerby

  • “Add More ING to Your Life. A Hip Guide to Happiness”  by Gabrielle Bernstein

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Resources For Wholesome Healthy Eating

You probably don’t need another article on how or what to eat.  We actually know what we should do, but a lot of us don’t make the right choices.  So I’m going to give you some resources to take a look at.

Check out these change agents, their suggestions for eating, recipes, menu plans, or just good wellness tips:

Suggested Books:

SuperFoods”  by Steven Pratt MD and Kathy Matthews
Beating Cancer with Nutrition”   by Patrick Quillin
The Blood Sugar Solution”  by Mark Hyman MD

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Practice Being Mindful for Your Health

Simplicity itself. It’s about stopping and being present. That is all.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Taking time to stop and truly be in the moment is so good for your health.  Mindfulness not only helps you feel calm, relaxed, and extremely good,  it also strengthens your immune system and decreases stress related cortisol.  Mindfulness also thickens and strengthens the insula area of the frontal cortex of your brain which plays a role in controlling perception, self-awareness, cognitive function, motor control and much more.   Reducing stress has been proven to improve many medical and psychological conditions.

Mindfulness isn’t a religion or new age medicine.  It’s about you taking a moment to stop and clear your mind by not thinking, not examining and not planning… just being in the moment,  even if its just for one moment.  It will be well worth it,  you will feel more energized and clearer thinking, making you stronger for the journey ahead.

All it takes is pausing then take 3 deeper, longer breaths, 3 counts in 3 counts out.

Suggested, related BOOKS:

Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Just One Thing by Rick Hanson

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Why Nutritional Supplements?

The further medical science progresses, the more we learn about the human body’s amazing ability to heal itself or to fight off disease. Your body needs a full arsenal of tools to really reach its full potential and, not surprisingly, most of what the body needs can be found in a natural, healthy, balanced diet.

Most of us know the basics; limit fats, simple carbs and fatty meats; eat lots and lots of vegetables and a good amount of fruit; Keep your fatty acids in balance with omega 3 rich sources like salmon, exercise regularly, practice decreasing stress, wear sunscreen and look both ways before crossing the street.

For those fortunate enough to have access to healthy, organic foods prepared each and every day in healthy, balanced diets that provide every nutrient your body is crying out for, supplements might not be so important.

For the rest of us, although we probably could get everything we need from a well-planned and prepared diet, we probably won’t, regardless of our good intentions. That’s where supplements come in.

Certain supplements, like CoQ10, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D, are widely acknowledged at all ends of the medical spectrum, as being very valuable supplements considering our modern diets needs. Even these supplements weren’t always so well accepted or valued but you’d be hard pressed to find a physician today that doesn’t believe these supplements are useful to most of their patients; and the list is growing.

So if you don’t seem to have the time to stand in a stream eating wild salmon and chewing fresh vegetables all day; and you don’t have a team of grocers and chefs gathering and preparing your balanced, health meals every day, consider adding medical grade supplements to your healthy intentions. Your body will thank you for it.

At Elite we only offer the very best quality supplements we can find. Most of them are only available through licensed health-care professionals. Contact us for more information on what supplements might be right for you and either pick some up at our online store or we’ll be happy to recommend a store in your area.

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Be Inspired!

Be Inspired…

What inspires you?

Is it someone adapting to a trauma that has happened in their lives and overcoming all adversity?  Is it a song, movie, book, or a poem?  Or is it just a moment in time with nature, a feeling within that drives you, a place that you have been or a speaker that you have heard?

To be inspired is one of the many “anti-aging” tools you can add to your life’s tool belt.  Inspiration leads to hope, to dreams, to reaching for the stars or to dreaming about future discoveries. Try to find and feel inspiration, you will feel a whole lot better.  Inspiration can give you strength, hope, and the power to succeed at whatever you set as your goal.  If you feel uninspired, work on changing your thought process by moving in the direction of inspiration:  Listen to that song.  Watch that movie.  Read that inspiring story or just imagine the future you want for yourself or those around you.

So many things have inspired me since I was young and I believe that inspiration has been a part of the drive and determination that makes me believe that anything is possible, to reach for the stars or help others reach for their goal.

So just give it a try.  Looking for inspiration can’t hurt you.  The worst thing that can happen is that a little smile will start inside that you can’t keep from showing on your face.  If you want the best for yourself and all those around you, try, try and then try again to find your inspiration.

Of course there are days when you won’t feel so inspired and you might struggle but those times are the perfect times to just go do something active that you enjoy, to get some exercise, to get out of that rut.  Eat something healthy so you’ll feel proud that you’re doing the right things to make yourself better. Go ahead and stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts and focus on what inspires you.  Then, when you have that great inspirational momentum going, that frame of mind when you just know that anything is possible – guess what? – that positive energy will start to flow and you’re not going to want to stop.

Once you start sending out that positive energy, it will definitely affect those around you and their success will give you even more strength, strength to live the life you know you can live.

 

 “Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.


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The Nurse is in… February is American Heart Month

Find your motivation!

Hi everyone!  February is American Heart Month …so I thought it was important that we take a look at how we are taking care of our hearts this month and talk about some of things that we can do to help prevent cardiac disease.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 3 deaths are from heart disease and stroke. To look at it another way, that’s about 2,200 deaths each day, every day, all year long. Additionally, many people who don’t die because of the initial stroke or heart attack end up seriously disabled instead or at the very least, dependent on a whole slew of harsh drugs for the rest of their lives.  This is difficult not only for the patient but especially for the patient’s family and friends.  There is also a huge financial cost to consider.  In 2010 a staggering $444 billion was spent caring for those who suffered heart attacks or strokes.

All this gloomy news doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about though, so take heart ( I know, I know but it works, right?). Let’s take the negative pressure off everyone and replace it with just a little accountability for our own lifestyles.  If we can make just the simplest changes, we have a great chance of minimizing the risks of heart disease and getting the most out of life.

So what’s it going to take to start changing the statistics?  The first thing we can do is to start moving.  We are always talking about the importance of exercise but we also know that, according to the CDC, only 1 in 3 Americans are getting enough exercise.  So why is that?  If we know that it is extremely important for our bodies, including our mind & spirit, why aren’t we doing it? If we all know to some degree what we’re supposed to do, yet we don’t seem to be able to do it, then what’s stopping us?  It’s usually all about motivation and, most importantly, it’s all about what motivates you personally.   Figure out what drives you, what motivates you to get up every day to improve your health and quality of life.  Whether you just want to feel better, you want a better chance of living the healthy life you expected or just want to show everyone you’ve still got what it takes on the court, find the inner motivation that can excite you to keep after it, to continue to use the knowledge and tools that you either have or know where to find that will help you achieve optimal health.

You need to ask yourself:

  • What do you want?  What do you wish for?  What do you like or have hope for?
  • What is possible?  What are you capable of and what are you willing to do to achieve your goals?
  • How important is this change and how much do you need to do it?

These are important questions to ask yourself and by putting solid, concrete answers to them, you can create your own personal guide of motivation for a healthier lifestyle.  Whatever your reasons, they need to be your own reasons.  Be proud of who you are and what you can do.  Your body is made to move so give yourself that little bit of positive reinforcement every day you can manage it, remind yourself of what drives and excites you and live your life to the fullest.  You can do it! I know you can, you know you can so get going and enjoy yourself while you’re at it.

 

“Medicine is the art of entertaining patients until they heal themselves” Hippocrates

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