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America: First In Health Care Spending, Last In Life Expectancy

I was in Harrisburg, PA leLife Expectency World USA Today 5.16.14cturing this weekend.  I received the USA Today newspaper on Friday May 16, 2014 and on page 5A there was an article titled, “Life Expectancy Up; Japanese Females Living Longest of All.”   (The chart on the left was in this article.) The article quoted a World Health Organization annual report which was released last Thursday.

With the amount of money spent on health care, you would think that the U.S. should be, at least, one of the top ten countries for life expectancy.  You would think wrong. Americans spend over 18% of our gross national product on health care.  While we make up 5% of the world’s population, we consume over 50% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs.  You would think if those drugs improved our lives and adequately treated chronic disorders, we would be at the top of the life expectancy chart.  Again, you would think wrong.

In fact, the U.S. spends more on health care than the next nine biggest spenders combined:  Japan, France, China, UK, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and Australia. As can be seen from the picture, the U.S. does not rank in the top ten countries for either male or female life expectancy.  In fact, we rank 37th overall, tied with Cuba, Costa Rica, Nauru, Qatar, and Columbia.  We lag behind Lebanon, Chile, and every other wealthy Western country.  And to top it off, when compared to the U.S., all the other countries spend markedly less on their health care.  Why do we put up with this nonsense?

Although there are many reasons for why we spend so much money on health care, the fastest growing expense is pharmaceutical drugs.  We simply take too many drugs that don’t work.  Nearly all pharmaceutical drugs work by poisoning enzymes and blocking receptors.  As I stated in Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, “You can’t poison a crucial enzyme or block an important receptor for the long-term and expect a good result.”  Most drugs do not treat the underlying cause of a problem; they merely treat the symptoms of the illness.  Furthermore, drugs that poison enzymes and block receptors are associated with too many serious adverse effects. What is the solution to this problem?  I think the answer lies in education.

Both doctors and patients need to be educated about health.  Educating the patients about how drugs work and what they do in the body will lead them to make better health care decisions.  On a daily basis I see too many patients, particularly elderly patients, taking too many medications that don’t improve their health. Unfortunately, medical schools do not educate their students about health.  Most doctors in practice have no skills in evaluating the health of a patient.  Rather, doctors are trained to recognize pathology and disease.  Once the illness is diagnosed, physicians are quick to prescribe a drug to treat it. However, the vast majority of the drugs do not treat the underlying cause of the illness–they treat the symptoms of the illness. Instead of prescribing ineffective drugs, doctors should be educating their patients about the importance of eating a better diet, exercising, maintaining hydration, and correcting nutritional and hormonal imbalances.

I urge you all to read articles and books about health so you can understand why it is so important to take care of your body.  We are designed to live healthy and productive lives, even in advanced years.  Supplying the body with the correct nutrients allows it to function at its’ optimal level.  Ultimately, any health care decision is the patient’s responsibility. You must educate yourself so that you can make good health care choices.  When we start making better health care choices, we will be taking less prescription medications.  More information about prescription medications can be found in my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, 2nd Edition.

Last among all the Western countries?  We should not put up with that!Drugs Book

Author Info

David Brownstein

Comments ( 10 )

  • Author Icon

    The life expectancy statistics for the U.S. are misleading. If you compared life expectancies by state with the usual examples you would find that many states, especially those along the Canadian border, copmpare favorably with the top ranked countries. One of the most remarkable number is for the state of Hawaii whose Japanese-descents minority enjoys a top rating as high as the top-ranked old home land. Also, if you compared the U.S. to all of Europe, we would rank ahead of it.

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      David Brownstein

      There are pockets in the U.S. where life expectancy compares favorably with other countries. However, that still does not answer the basic question–why do we spend so much on health care and have nothing to show for it? We should be, dollar for dollar, well ahead of every country and we should be having less chronic disease. Neither is occurring.

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    Wendy Powers

    Our country appears to be more a mix of a plutocracy and corpocracy than a democracy nowadays. That being said, it is the ‘bottom line’ that appears to reign supreme over and above the care of the citizens who live here – especially those who falls into the 99%. As far as one’s medical care – I have always been a firm believer in being very proactive in your own care and the care of those you advocate for such as children, an elderly relative or even a spouse.

    Doctors are only human beings who happen to have the job of being a doctor. They are not Gods to be placed upon a pedestal and revered. They are not perfect and make mistakes just like the rest of us. You have the right and permission to change doctors as many times as you need to until you find the one you like and feels really connects and listens to you.

    Blindly following a doctor just because he’s your family’s doctor for generations is foolish and unnecessary! I say this not to be arrogant, self righteous or just plain obnoxious, but as a result of all of the many people I have talked to over the years who have had the same doctor for decades because they did not think they could, or were too afraid to, change doctors. They believed that changing doctors would be too confusing taking far too long for the new doctor to catch up on knowing their medical history, etc., etc., etc. and that is just not true. The mid-1900s and earlier, when doctor’s really knew all of their patients by name, are long gone. A doctor today sees so many people they wouldn’t know if a patient was gone from their care or not.

    So, I feel that it is the patient who needs to take full control over their health care and be 100% Pro-Active! If something does not sound right to you about a medication or procedure ordered by a doctor – then say so! If you know that there is something wrong then be tenacious about getting answers and the help you need to find solutions. Ask questions! You have a right to say “No!” or ask for a second opinion. Doctors can’t possibly know everything nor have all the answers so ask to see a specialist. We all know our bodies best of all so why would anyone allow any doctor tell them how they feel?

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      David Brownstein

      YOU GO!

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    I suspect that due to Fukushima, Japan will not be high on that list much longer. And Dani, I know exactly what you mean. I once read an article stating that a new patient should bring along a list of symptoms, prior health history, and what medications they were on. I tried this. The new doctor literally crumbled it in his hand – without looking at it – and said, “I’M the doctor. I’LL tell YOU what the problem is. He wasn’t my doctor for long after that. Another doctor sat with his back to me at every appt. staring at the computer – like I didn’t exist. My latest doctor tries to sell me 6 or 7 medical tests/procedures and vaccines before she will even address why I am there. I refuse them all. My step-father is a retired physician, and even he is dismayed at the state of “doctoring” these days.

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    The primary issue is protection of the jobs in the health sector versus health. The only way that we will free ourselves of this dilemma is to place term limits on our congressman. The personal action is of course to get proper nutrition and keep pharmaceuticals to a minimum.

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    The fact that over 70% of the US is drinking artificially fluoridated water is not helping matters, As you’ve written about, fluoride can replace iodine in the body, causing havoc in the endocrine systems and other parts of the body.

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    I do place blame on the “powers that be” BUT blame should also be somewhat placed on the individuals. Too many times they run to the doctor and want the doc to provide a pill to cure their ills with no regard as to how their lifestyle – something that can be changed – impacts their health. I learned long ago not to place blind trust in allopathic doctors; they are a product of their training, after all. Not to make it sound like I’m a know-it-all (I do research everything to death) but I never appreciated their condescending attitudes … you know, “you’re just a mom and you know nothing” mentalitly. All I wanted was to DIALOGUE w/them, not to talk to me like I was a child. Heaven forbid I asked a question … 1) they never had time for me and 2) they considered me rude for questioning them. I’m sorry but they are not GOD and need to get over themselves.

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    Rebecca Cody

    This country is run by and for Big Business. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We won’t turn things around as long as the people are considered less important than the money-wielding giant corporations, including Big Pharma, the Military-Industrial giants, Monsanto and all the others who lavishly buy influence. The motto seems to be “the people be damned” in today’s world.

    I do see people changing, and real change always comes from the people, but it is a huge uphill battle, since most people are so influenced by advertising that they don’t even know the true nature of the problems we need to overcome.

    Sorry to sound so negative, but I’ve been watching this situation for over 70 years and it has only gotten worse for the most part.

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    My own feeling is that one of the major health challenges in the US is the FDA itself.

    Yes, they have gotten rid of some problems. Yes, they have created many problems.

    The results of their efforts shows up in that summary of world health. D- or F

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