TRANSFORMING HEALTH INSURANCE
April 26, 2009 -- The reforms include medical insurance for Americans not currently insured. America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Service Employees International Union and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have all agreed to cut spending increases, as interested parties realize that there is a growing anger among the public about costs.
In my country, the UK, I think it is resentment, rather than anger, that is growing. For many treatments it depends on where you live in the UK as to whether you receive the treatment, even though we all pay for it. This is called the 'postcode lottery'. And although mainly funded from taxation, our health service is very expensive, with our doctors the highest paid in Europe. There is a widespread fear of going into hospital as so many hospitals are dirty, with geriatric care particularly criticised for many failings. There are rising numbers of avoidable deaths in hospital, as the Telegraph reported in January.
What is urgently necessary for healthcare on both sides of the Atlantic is a greater emphasis on prevention of avoidable illness, rather than on treatment. New York has set a good example to follow, by its talks with the food industry and restaurants to cut the amount of salt in the food they sell. When people reduce their intake of sodium it is the simplest and most effective boost to their health possible, and the best way to avoid chronic disabling illnesses like stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, cancer, depression and many more, including obesity.
For too long the food industry has been able to coast along doing nothing very effective about reducing salt levels in its highly-salted convenience foods and lobbying to curb the efforts of enlightened campaigners. And for too long, the drug companies have been allowed to provide 'sweeteners' of one sort or another to interested parties so that prescription medications have more and more been partrayed as a rational solution to health problems that are actually dietary or lifestyle in origin, rather than medical.
A change of heart and a change of philosophy would reap rich rewards in health and financial cost savings, in my opinion. If you, Dear Reader, feel in need of a tonic and have not already reduced your salt intake, why not try doing so? Sodium reduction brings a host of health benefits in its train.
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