Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Health Care Crisis (Part 1)

America’s rapidly declining health and the simultaneous increasing cost of health care has been a wave steadily approaching the shores of our national well-being for over a decade.  Most of us knew the wave was out there somewhere, yet the majority behaved as if it really wasn’t a concern, at least not enough to make important changes in diet and exercise.  Maybe we were lulled into thinking that “insurance will cover it” in the last 20 years since 60% of the population began receiving health care coverage through their employers.  Well, the wave has hit the shore, like a tsunami, and change we must.  We are now in the midst of a “health care crisis” and now it’s sink or swim:

• The CDC reports that in 2005 more than 133 million Americans–almost 1 of every 2 adults–suffered with chronic illness.

• Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and an estimated 79 million Americans have “pre-diabetes”). Type 2 “adult-onset” diabetes is increasing in the adult population and has made a surprise appearance in children.

• In May 2009 the CDC published the results of a study in its National Health Statistics Report which found that 1 in 3 American adults in the U.S. meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a common but silent combination of metabolic symptoms including cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, blood pressure and obesity that leads to heart attacks and diabetes (more on all of these in future blogs).  Hypoglycemia, a related disorder, plagues the lives of countless millions more.

• Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States in 2009, a year in which the direct and indirect cost of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. was an estimated $312.6 billion (American Heart Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics--2013,” Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association).  And lest we think these statistics are only of concern for retirees, the Framingham Heart Study revealed that 45% of all heart attacks occur in people under age 65.

• And of course we have all heard (or seen) by now that 67% percent of Americans--a whopping two-thirds of us--are either overweight or obese.

The facts are sobering, we are clearly in trouble.  But it really didn’t sneak up on us unawares--the ripples of the big wave have been hitting us for well over 2 decades.  While billions of dollars have been allotted to battling the trend, the overall health of America continued to decline.  As a nation the motivation to change just was not there.  Now, however, the exploding health care crisis is arguably the greatest threat to the well-being of individuals, families, businesses, and the American economy itself.  The escalating cost of insurance premiums and health care, coupled with sinking wages, and combined with escalating numbers of uninsured Americans, has become a recipe for disaster.  Recent health care reform law (the Affordable Care Act) is an attempt to avert that disaster, but the outcomes of such a late-entry strategy are yet to be seen, and unsure at best.  The need for individuals and companies of all sizes to take action to prevent disease has never been more important.

Signing up for a free RSS feed or daily e-mail update of the Seed to your inbox daily can support you in that effort.  The Seed is a short daily tip, education or encouragement to keep the vision of good health in the forefront of your mind.  The Seed will encourage you about just how doable a healthy lifestyle really is and help keep you motivated (anyone who has ever been on a diet or behavior change program realizes that being motivated to start is not difficult, it is staying motivated that is the more difficult key to real lifestyle change).  The Seed is like having a free Registered Dietitian to support you.

Banner Image Credit: bryljaev / 123RF Stock Photo.

Background Image Credit: bryljaev / 123RF Stock Photo.