Thursday, October 31, 2013

Carelessness or Health Care?

What is our state of mind in reforming health care today?  Crazy first comes to my mind in how we address the symptoms instead of the problem of today’s health crisis.  Health carelessness and mismanagement can be corrected only if we fully embrace wellness, prevention and wise care.

Presently our economy totals 15 trillion dollars.  U.S. total healthcare expenditure is $2.7 trillion or 18 percent of GDP.  It is forecasted to reach 34 percent of GDP by 2040.  In 2010 Americans spent $1.3 trillion on health care. Multiple chronic illness cases that make of just one percent of care consume 21 percent of this total amount.  While the last 50 percent of patients account for the 2.8 percent of spending last year.  Contrary to popular opinion only 10 percent of health care dollars are spent in the last year of life.  While increased money is spent in last few months approaching death it is not the massive percentage of medical care dollars that is widespread believed.[1]

Health care spending is forecasted to account for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or one-fifth of the U.S. economy, by 2021.  It’s has estimated that wasteful spending may account for between one-third and one-half of all U.S. health care spending.  The largest area of this waste is defensive medicine, including redundant, inappropriate or unnecessary tests and procedures. Other factors that contribute to this excessive spending include non-adherence to medical advice and prescriptions, alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity. Other factors that contribute to wasteful spending include non-adherence to medical advice and prescriptions, alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.

2013 marked 50 years ago when; President John F. Kennedy addressed Congress about the state of mental health—and changed the way Americans view mental health care. However, understanding the ramifications of this upon all facets of our economy, culture and society is murky. For example how much depression, anxiety and other ailments directly affected our bottom-line can only be speculated.  Also how such mind states related to obesity and other major diseases today is difficult to track .  Loss of worker productivity and other indirect costs for mental treatment, therapy and other associated facets of mental illness are difficult to fully measure. 

Each year more than one out of every four adults experiences a diagnosable mental disorder. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated that the medical treatment, non-medical and long-term-care costs related to brain disease in the United States in 2012 would exceed $900 billion each year. This year, direct treatment costs of $515 billion could approach almost 20 percent of all health-care spending. About 5 percent of our population — 7.2 percent in Rhode Island — has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder

Experts cite exponential costs of treating illness if we invested in researching the roots and remedies of the problemFor example look at the figures of alcoholism in American today to see how underdeveloped our basic understanding is. Alcohol abuse is rising. Around 1 out of 6.

Mental health spending, both public and private, more than doubles its level in inflation-adjusted terms since 1986.  However, direct mental health spending has remained roughly 1 percent of the economy since 1986, while total health spending climbed from about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1986 to nearly 17 percent in 2009

Today United States spends 5.6 percent of the national health-care spending, or $113 billion on mental health treatment.  Most of this goes toward prescription drugs and outpatient treatment. Our country had 156,300 mental health counselors in 2010 and access to mental health care is worse than other types of medical services.

Mental health care is expensive, with 45 percent of the untreated citing cost as a barrier. A quarter of the 15.7 million Americans who received mental health care listed themselves as the main payer for the services, according to one survey that looked at those services from 2005 to 2009.

Another major challenge is that prevailing attitudes.  Many mental health patients who consider about going to the doctor but decided against it.

The jury is still out regarding Obama Care.  However, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) creates more mental health mandates, by requiring all insurers who sell on the exchanges to include such treatments in their benefit packages. Also how the rest of this act works out will take time to sort out.

Managing my father’s health care I have observed first hand overspending, waste and inefficiency.  He spent over four decades of his life work writing major health care legislation as a Congressional lawyer and researcher including staff on the House Ways and Means Committee assisting with of Medicare and Social Security issues.   

It is hard to find mental balance today from our health care crisis.  How are we going to better manage, prevent, reduce costs and promote wellness?   My sense of mental wellness allows me to see the many facets of this current situation- its challenges and opportunities.  Let’s best cure, heal and prosper by proactive measures to secure our country’s health and well-being

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Time to Change Our Climate

Increasingly new scientific findings suggest that humans are impacting our planet. However, our ability to best manage the stress of these studies is becoming a huge psychic burden.  Compound this with the increasingly polarization of American politics and it safe to assume things are heating up on many fronts.  People’s passions, fears, despairs and frustrations are running high.  While change is needed, increased fearful delay increases both the temperature and tensions.

What can you as an individual do?  Cool down and become part of the solution not add fuel to this fire . Since our very foundation of freedom is directly dependent on responsible citizen action profiting from preventing further harm is paramount.

How can we stimulate public support when our current economic system does not adequately reward such endeavors?  Public demand and bipartisan support are fundamental to bettering our climate with a new awareness, ingenuity!

Lessening our impact on our planet, people, and fragile eco-system is road to now travel. Simple planning, to save more and pollute less is an art form that already millions of Americans share in. More people now are walking, recycling, biking, and many other beautiful acts of showing greater kindness to how to best live on this Earth.

The word conserving comes from the combination of two words.  "Con" which can mean to examine, carefully, persuade, and steer or even an opposing view.  "Serve" means to work for, prepare, and offer and to complete.  Together conserving means to: protect from loss and harm; to prevent from waste, injury; and to economize.  

When people conserve, they wake up to how we all are inter-connected.  Conserving is a form of  prosperity resulting in an amazing ripple effect.  Showing greater respect for all things on this planet widens our circle of greater well being. Conservation is cool!