Monday, April 29, 2013

Health Care With Less- Preventing Its Carelessness

U.S. health care costs are approaching $3 trillion dollars.  These escalating costs are threatening the future well-being of all Americans. U.S. spends per person $8,233 each year for such care. We spend more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Our very health and wellness is in peril. Such expenditures have increased ten times more than just three decades before. Ironically, we are becoming victims of our own successes since people are living longer and new innovations are more expensive.  The changing nature of illness has sparked a renewed interest in the possible role for prevention to help control costs. Ironically, we lead the world in health care research and cancer treatment. What and how can we control costs and at the same time provide care? We must reform health carelessness with renewed form of care using less.

  • Technical advancements–new medical technologies has been cited as a primary contributor to the increase in overall health spending;
  • Medications and drugs- prescription drugs have been cited as another factor to spiraling costs.
  • Rise in chronic diseases – It has been estimated that health care costs for chronic disease treatment account for over 75% of national health expenditures. For example, there has been tremendous focus on the rise in rates of overweight and obesity and their contribution to chronic illnesses and health care spending. 
  • Administrative costs –  Increased administrative costs of government health care programs and the net cost of private insurance has also increased health care expenditures. Also public-private system creates overhead costs and large profits that increasing costs. 
Other possible common solutions are;

Reduce health care fraud and abuse- lessen fraud and reduce costs on consumers, employers and taxpayers. Health care fraud nationwide has been estimated to cost up to hundreds of billions of dollars each a year

Medical liability system- increase efficiency since it is estimated 20 to 30 percent of all health spending going to care that is wasteful, or redundant, our medical liability system generates billions of dollars in unwarranted costs each and every year.  By lessening claims of medical negligence and compensate patients who suffer injuries as a result of malicious or incompetent medical practice such reforms will reduce costs.  Some experts promote that evidence-based medicine approach to medical liability will protect both providers and patients.

Increase information sharing – this will allow consumers, employers, and public programs to make more informed purchasing decisions, lessen abuse and waste by stimulating public participation to curb costs.

Innovations in payment and delivery systems- create incentives to reward quality and promote evidence-based health care and assist physicians, hospitals, and other health care professionals in the design and implementation of payment reforms.

Reduce unnecessary medical visits-   seek opportunities to lessen patient’s time in hospitals and medical facilities so to avoid potentially harmful complications. Such measures can improved quality and lessen costs.

There are no easy solutions to today’s crisis in health care.  However, we must be assertive to remedy its current ills. We all observe how things are breaking down and now we must rebuild and champion wellness.  

We have to reform our health care system with both government leadership and greater market-based models that encourage greater competition.  Also lessening waste and encouraging preventative measures will promote wellness.  What are the low hanging fruit to keep costs down?  How can we as Americans lessen our costs?  What can government and the private sector do to make health care more affordable? No longer can we remain complacent with our broken health care system. Only with an asserted effort to reform health care can we keep costs in check and champion affordable medical services.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Celebrate Earth Day Not Decay

It was 33 years ago I was both the D.C. and national Earth Day Coordinator. Just ten years before the term “recycling” was first introduced and we in the 20th century began to awaken to the inter-dependence of us and our beloved land, air and water. Can we celebrate our appreciation for this planet by exercising greater care in how we exist?   How can we improve our quality of life with greater resolve?  Let’s show our love for the earth by asking how we can save resources for future generations. 

Have we have seriously ignored our planet’s ability to sustain future life or helped it?  Presently we in the U.S. invest twenty percent in health care or $2.5 trillion dollars. Our world is just another extension of our greater health?  It is ironic that hundreds of trillions of dollars in other stuff while investing a tiny fraction in our very earth’s future.  In the last half decade we have double our population seriously depleting our globe’s prosperity and  impacted our planet's resources to its very brink. 

Can we invest in lessening consumption, and demand higher prices for exploiting ecosystems while being kind to the less fortunate?  For example can we invest in energy efficiency and conserve for the future.  Also can the price of some landfills reflect “bury now, pay latter”, food does not reflect the cost of transporting it vast distances or cleaning waterways that have been polluted by run-off of agro/petro chemicals. We must now fully account for all our environmental costs or pay the enormous consequences.

Thirty-three years after the first Earth Day, I feeling both optimistic and cynical.  Earth Day 2013 is a day to honor besides a day of clean-ups, educational booths, tree plantings, speeches, conversations and parades. It is a day just like every other offering us a profound experience to show gratitude for this fantastic planet. 

Earth Day is about demonstrating profound respect of our natural systems: a deep and profound connection to the natural world, the cycles of life, and the rhythms of nature.  On Earth Day 2013, let’s seriously awaken to the need for our planet's life support systems - and for us.

Earth Day is a day of wise celebrate: to stop destroying and start creating; to listen deeply as in your favorite green space; to use as few resources as possible; and teach our children that our Earth and our body are interconnected.  Finally let’s see that helping our planet is what true economic growth is all about.

Our environment is our future portfolio.  Can invest in need for clean place instead of so blinded by our material wants? Economy connotes saving our homes.  Let’s all agree that mending this place is far better than ending it's future prosperity.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Consciousness of Conservation

Conservation for me is awakening.  When I observe the inter-relationships in nature all the elements work together sharing their nutrients since one organism’s by-products becomes transformed as food for another. Conserving is life process of sharing things for other beings.
Over the last half year I have spent much time in the woods around my home just simply enjoying this thanksgiving.   I believe there is a consciousness in conservation.   For me there is an unspoken illuminating awareness of our greater connection or collective consciousness in nature. 

"Researchers at the University of British Columbia are concluding that trees are interacting with one another in a symbiotic relationship that helps the trees to survive. Connected by fungi, the underground root systems of plants and trees are transferring carbon and nitrogen back and forth between each other in a network of subtle communication. Similar to the network of neurons and axons in the human brain, the network of fungi, roots, soil and micro-organisms beneath the larger ‘mother trees’ gives the forest its own consciousness." Video:

I invite you to explore this consciousness of conservation.  What is your experience?