Obamacare is good and bad- Here’s why…

ObamacareToday the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Therefore, unless things drastically change (in the next elections), everyone will be required to have health insurance or face a tax penalty. While the tax will most likely be minimal $ compared to the cost of insurance premiums, only those who choose to not buy health insurance will feel it.

This is “good” because when people have regular care, and don’t use the emergency room for a cold or other minor condition that could easily be handled by a medical provider, it lowers costs.  Ultimately, this healthcare reform NEEDS to be about lowering costs. Covering more people with the same expensive medicine will not lower costs –as seen in the Massachusetts healthcare system in the past few years. (for more details see previous blog HERE).

This is “bad” because not enough discussion is being placed on the fundamental way healthcare is approached.  Currently we have a “disease care” system and we only spend 1% (according to JAMA) on “prevention” of disease in this country.  Over 70% of all costs are isolated to 4 conditions:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Diabetes
  3. Cancer
  4. Obesity

Research shows that these chronic 4 conditions are largely lifestyle caused diseases.  There are many large corporations that already have healthcare figured out way better than the US.  When a company is big enough, they will usually choose to “self-fund” by creating their own insurance company for their employees.  Now, it’s in their best interest to KEEP PEOPLE WELL!

This is done via correctly incentivized wellness programs (that are usually optional for employees to participate in) that reward people for a healthy lifestyle.  Not rocket science here, but the CEO’s are looking at the bottom line of healthcare costs, and realize it a good business decision on many levels (reduced costs, healthy happy productive employees, etc.).  This has been going on for many years.  Government would do well to follow their lead, and incentivize citizens to get well with $$$ incentives.  Stop smoking, lose weight, etc. and here is your carrot for doing so via reduced premiums or other financial incentive.  These corporate programs work, its a fact.

The average ROI (Return On Investment) for corporations that invest in their employees in the form of a proper wellness program is between 1:3-4.5.  That’s a 300-450% return on their investment in cost savings.  It’s a no brainer, but the problem is that it’s missing a key component-integrative & holistic medicine.  Most corporate programs are limited to stop smoking or weight loss & pedometers.  This needs to be taken to the next level.

Now, Obama gets some credit for including some of these integrative & holistic medicine practitioners into the new law. Specifically, he states in the Bill section H. R. 3590—18-

“WELLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS.—For purposes of subsection (a)(1)(D), wellness and health promotion activities may include personalized wellness and prevention services, which are coordinated, maintained or delivered by a health care provider, a wellness and prevention plan manager, or a health, wellness or prevention services organization that conducts health risk assessments or offers ongoing face-to-face, telephonic or web-based intervention efforts for each of the program’s participants, and which may include the following wellness and prevention efforts:

‘‘(1) Smoking cessation. ‘‘(2) Weight management. ‘‘(3) Stress management. ‘‘(4) Physical fitness. ‘‘(5) Nutrition. ‘‘(6) Heart disease prevention. ‘‘(7) Healthy lifestyle support. ‘‘(8) Diabetes prevention.”

That’s all good stuff, but people need to pay more for insurance, if they are living a high risk/poor health choices lifestyle (i.e. smoking, etc.).  If you get 5 speeding tickets in a year, would you expect your auto insurance rates to go up?  Of course!  You choose how to drive, and pay accordingly.  It should be similar with health insurance.  At least the lifestyle factors you can control, like what you eat, and if you exercise.  It does not have to be expensive to eat healthy, and walking is free!  It can be that simple as a starting point.

This “best of both worlds” medicine is the answer to the healthcare crisis, and it will come in the form of individuals taking charge of, and responsibility for their health.  In addition to getting good “first do no harm” care, using clinically proven, cost effective based integrative medicine.

The Integrative Medicine & Holistic Health Association is helping to create this transformation to a proactive model of care.  Become part of the movement and join us in this healing transformation!