Treat Causes, Not Just Symptoms

Appendicitis causes pain, fever, and vomiting. Taking medicines to ease the symptoms might provide temporary relief, but without addressing the cause, serious complications or even death will occur. To cure the disease, you must first know what it is that you are treating.

The American health care system has some very serious symptoms. Costs are rising much faster than personal incomes, quickly becoming unaffordable to most. Serious diseases, like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and a raft of others, have been growing plagues for decades and getting worse. The average health of the people is not improving in proportion to the increase in cost, in fact it is not improving at all. The number of physicians per 10,000 people has grown about seventy percent since the 1970s, and administration to a much greater extent, so it is not a matter of care becoming more scarce.

Over the last several decades, politicians at the federal and state levels have decided that health care is just too juicy an issue not to get their mitts into. Over that time, there has been law after law, regulation after regulation, and program after program to show that they are doing something. They are, however, looking at symptoms and not causes, because, in many cases, they are the cause. Many of the negative results we experience with the system are predictable results of their direct and indirect manipulation of health care markets and embedded incentives.

The rules have not been written for the benefit of individuals whose health is at stake, but rather for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers, insurance companies, and processed food makers. The Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture are among the agencies, federal and state, that have revolving door policies with the personnel of companies that they supposedly regulate, with foxes guarding the hen-house.

There is little difference between the Republican version of Obamacare and the original. Nowhere does it address the cancer in the system. Corruption abounds, be it hard or soft. Lobbyists for corporations with vested interests heavily influence what goes into the laws. Nutrition recommendations from the government are heavily influenced by the processed food and drug industries, and those are accepted as gospel truth by the entire health network.

Those same vested interests provide a significant portion of the revenue for most major health organizations. Thus, we have diabetes, heart disease and cancer organizations that endorse diets that promote diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, while also recommending every new, expensive treatment available. Your health is not their concern.

It is understandable how the health and nutrition communities might have been more open to the new USDA diet recommendations in the 1970s, though the change certainly should have been treated with much more skepticism and actual science than it was. After several decades of watching health problems multiply with the new diet recommendations, however, and with the growing body of evidence demonstrating that it was wrong-headed dogma from the beginning, there is no excuse for Americans to accept it or to blindly accept advice from organizations corrupted by financial interests and expensive lobbying.

America’s health care crisis is not a matter of too little health care. It is, in fact, a matter of much to much health care at the expense of actual health. The purpose of the health care system has become selling drugs, equipment, and services, not a healthy population.

The disease of the health care system today is corruption, aided and abetted by public policy, which tends to limit true competition and market forces and enables abuse. Health care definitely needs an overhaul, but without treating the causes, the symptoms will persist and grow.

Dan McLaughlin is the author of “Compassion and Truth-Why Good Intentions Don’t Equal Good Results.” Follow him at daniel-mclaughlin.com

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