That is how much a family of four, on average, pays for medical care each year. Not completely out of pocket, however. These costs also come from insurance premiums and tax-funded government entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. With our high-tech diagnostics and expensive medical procedures, it is not surprising that the United States leads the world in spending money on diagnosing and treating disease. What is surprising is our pitiful return on investment! We rank 37th in global health status, behind Canada and most of Europe.
Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, states the not-so-obvious in his book Why Our Health Matters. “If any other major industry had functioned as badly as the American disease management industry has, people would have stopped spending their money on it.” He also notes that the numbers show we have misplaced our faith in medicine to cure chronic illness. Seventy-five percent of chronic illness is due to lifestyle factors that are under individual control.
Our current habits shape our future health. Consider that between 1900 and 2000, the average American’s lifespan increased by over 30 years. That’s great! Most of the gains came from improved public health measures: cleaner food, water, and air, and safer workplaces. Medical interventions were found to only add 5 years to the average lifespan. Being proactive about our health gave us 25 extra years to enjoy a productive life. Compared to hanging your hat on medical intervention, prevention delivers five times the return on your investment!
Choose prevention. Choose wellness. For life.
About the author: Dr. Barbara Kaiser, DC, CCWP, is a wellness-certified chiropractor at Vital Life Chiropractic in Eagan, Minnesota.