Copyright (c) 2007 SharpBrains
Have you watched Sicko already? It is very worth doing so.
In order to help put the health problem we are living in better perspective, let me share now some of the insights and advice that Bill Clinton gave us in San Francisco recently at the Healthetc event sponsored by California Pacific Medical Center and KCBS.
Some of the speech highlights:
1) Clinton’s great overview of key comparative data:
* 16 vs 10-11: % GDP spent on health care in the US vs. other industrialized countries. This percentage difference equals around $800 billion annually!
* 84 vs 100: % population with some form of health insurance in the US vs. other countries
* 34 and 37: ranking of the US system as measured by health outcomes and life expectancy, respectively
* 34 vs 19: % health care costs spent on administration in the US vs. other countries
2) President Clinton then outlined the 3 main problems with US Healthcare as follows, empathizing that any serious, long-term solution needs to address these 3 elements as a whole:
* immoral unequal coverage, where a large percentage of citizens lack access to quality care
* inefficient system: we pay more for less, as you could see in Sicko
* we still focus more on disease than on health. But he is hopeful about an increasing focus on wellness, absolutely necessary to alleviate future cost pressures
3) Now, let’s reflect on couple of (approximate) quotes with profound wisdom
* “I am a testimonial for the best of American medicine. Given my heart problems, it is a miracle I am here with you today. These days I cannot stay more than 5 minutes in a bad mood, because I remind myself how fortunate I am simply to be alive”
* (when people were clapping and cheering to easy “sound bites” while he was still trying to make a complex point) “Please stop. I don’t want you to boo or cheer, simply to think on your own”
In the afternoon, after his speech, we spent some time talking with health providers and attending some panels, such as the one put together by the Alzheimer’s Association on ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s.
We were surprised at the amount of education still needed to make the medical and health community incorporate science-based advice on lifelong learning and mental stimulation on top of “traditional” advice around nutrition and physical exercise. The Alzheimer’s Association is being one of the pioneers with their “Maintain Your Brain” campaign, suggesting a comprehensive set of health and wellness guidelines we should all follow:
1) Stay mentally active: “Mentally stimulating activities strengthen brain cells and the connections between them, and may even create new nerve cells.”
2) Remain socially active: “Social activity not only makes physical and mental activity more enjoyable, it can reduce stress levels, which helps maintain healthy connections among brain cells”
3) Stay physically active: “Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage new brain cells. It also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, and thereby protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”
4) Adopt a brain-healthy diet: “Research suggests that high cholesterol may contribute to stroke and brain cell damage. A low fat, low cholesterol diet is advisable. And there is growing evidence that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits, which contain antioxidants, may help protect brain cells.”
No doubt, Bill Clinton would agree with the importance of these guidelines to ensure Baby Boomers can age in a healthy way and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed with Alzheimer’s related costs.
Let’s watch with attention what the presidential candidates propose to deal with this situation.