Is it Good That Health Care Generates 17% of Our Economy?
Why True Health Reform Has Nothing to Do With Obamacare:
The Key Elements of True Health Reform Being Sidestepped by Both Sides of the Aisle
On February 23, 2010, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, "You will not see from us [Republicans] a… comprehensive re-write of 1/6 of our economy."
While on the surface his statement appeals to the free market advocate in me, Senator McConnell’s statement also contains a rather curious unexamined assumption: it’s good that 17% of our economy depends on healthcare profits. If 1/6 of our economy is devoted to healthcare, is this something to be proud of, or is it a red flag?
I’ve previously written in The Hijacking of Health section of this website about the two largest ticket items fueling healthcare’s grip on our economy (and our skyrocketing health insurance premiums). They are the illness creation industry and the symptom control industry. Here is a bit more about these two industries…
The Illness-Creation Industry
The illness creation industry generates massive profits from selling three things: 1) fake food; 2) products containing health-harming chemicals; and 3) products whose manufacturing or operating significantly poisons the quality of the air we breathe. What? It’s ethically okay to generate profits and feed the economy through selling things that create illness? It’s ethically okay to even go a step further and use propaganda-based marketing strategies that manipulate consumers into believing that buying and using things that make them ill will make them happy? It should be self-evident that this perversion of capitalism is ethically unacceptable and financially unsustainable. The surest way to cause health care costs to spiral out of control is to limit the use of the Hippocratic Oath (first, do no harm) to only the healthcare field. The illness creation industry creates at minimum hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars a year in avoidable healthcare costs/profits on top of the 1/6 of the economy that Senator McConnell claims is devoted to healthcare itself. As a socially responsible free market capitalist I say that the Hippocratic Oath should apply to ALL businesses. In fact, I believe the time has come for all of us to start practicing the Hippocratic Oath; as consumers, businesses, elected officials, and community members.
The Symptom-Control Industry
The symptom-control industry generates massive profits from selling over-the-counter and prescription medications, and costly medical procedures, that claim to manage people’s symptoms, even at the expense of some potentially wicked side effects. The symptom control industry is not interested in helping people remove the root causes creating those symptoms because if they did they would have far fewer repeat customers. Worse, a huge portion of the symptom control industry’s profits depend on as many as people as possible using the products that are being actively and unethically promoted by the illness creation industry. Consider this: the vast majority of the 1/6 of the economy that Senator McConnell spoke of is generated by the symptom-control industry. I for one would be delighted if 1/6 of the economy was generated by products and services that help people avoid developing symptoms in the first place, and that restore health at the level of root cause when symptoms do develop. Not by the symptom control industry and the illness creation industry that creates so much business for them.
While I have my questions about who is behind CCHR, in the video below Shane Ellison says an awful lot about the symptom-control industry in only two+ minutes…
The Illness-Creation & Symtom-Control Industries Skyrocket the Cost of Healthcare & Block the Development of a Sustainable Socially Responsible Economy in the Health Sector
Is devoting these massive amounts of money to illness creation and symptom control really the best way to build a sustainable economy? I can’t imagine that any ethical economist, no matter which economic theories they ascribe to, would claim that it is! No. Integrity deficits, not legitimate profits, currently cause healthcare profits to make up 1/6 of our economy.
So, now you see why it’s hard for me to support Mitch McConnell’s boast that the Republicans have refused to rewrite 1/6 of our economy. Quite the contrary. A lot more of our economy needs to be rewritten than the healthcare sector! Do I want our government to do the re-writing? Hell no! But, until the illness creation and symptom control industries decide to generate their profits in more socially responsible ways, THEY are the ones who are choosing for government to intervene on behalf of citizens.
The U.S. Constitution created a government that is required to be a servant to its citizens by functioning at the intersection of preserving individual freedom and promoting the common good. This is Civics 101. And it’s high time that Civics 101 start being taught again!
Civics 101 starts with truly understanding the core intention that virtually all of our country’s founders agreed upon. Study the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble and you’ll immediately see that their intention is precisely what I just said: to create a government that is a servant to its citizens through treating these two things as being equally important: preserving individual freedom and promoting the common good. Navigating this in an honest ongoing way is, indeed, the prime directive of democracy — and the core paradox around which truly democracy-centered republics revolve.
Civics 101 continues with understanding that unless we as citizens are involved in specific ways, the government cannot fulfill its mandate to be our servant. Here are the three keys to making sure our government effectively functions as our servant without watering down our individual freedom:
- WE THE PEOPLE: When we don’t regularly to provide our input to our elected representatives we the people create a vacuum that special interest groups are always itching to fill
- WE THE CITIZENS: In order for us to provide useful input to elected officials we must upgrade our critical thinking skills so we can form objective nonpartisan understandings of the issues we want to speak up about, instead of relying on special interests and political ideologues to force-feed us spin disguised as fact
- WE THE CONSUMERS: We must take to heart just how profoundly much power we have as consumers — by voting through voting with our wallets/pocketbooks we force those businesses that are not truly socially responsible to either become socially responsible or bankrupt themselves through their unwillingness.
Mark my words: profound change for the better WILL happen the moment enough of us choose to enact Civics 101. This is the key to taking back our power as citizens and consumers. It is the key to creating less government interference in our lives. As long as too few of us do the three things I listed above, WE THE PEOPLE are INVITING special interests to manipulate our government, and our government to interfere in our lives. And as long as too many businesses in specific industries (such as the illness creation and symptom control industries) continue to refuse to practice socially responsible free market capitalism, they are inviting our government to interfere with how they do business.
In other words, this post is not merely about what it will take to create true health reform. It is about how we as individuals and businesses can co-create true reform in all of the other areas that are also in dire need of our attention, such as economic, legal, and educational reform, for starters.
Want to read more about all this? Go to:
Invite Dr. Gruder to present on this topic for your organization, conference or radio show: "Break Free From Illness-Creating Foods & the Symptom-Control Trap They Create: How to Become Your Own Health Reform Plan."
PS. Want to listen instead of read? Listen to this March 5, 2010 recording of a VoiceAmerica interview in which Dr. Michael Kell interviews Dr. Gruder about his perspective on what true health reform requires. Discover:
- How our health got hijacked in the first place (i.e., the fake food industry getting us sick and the symptom control industry keeping us sick)
- The massive pressure big pharma puts on Congress to erode our health freedom (by attempting to dismantle DSHEA and limit consumer access to nutritional supplements)
- The self-responsibility dimensions of making health care affordable
- The key changes necessary for upgrading our health as a society so that people’s need for health care significantly decreases
- The social responsibility dimensions of making health care affordable
- Health provider responsibility in making health care affordable
- Health insurance company responsibility in making health care affordable (in contrast to Anthem Blue Cross’s 30-39% health insurance premium rate hike).