A Sick Care Model for Promoting Health is Doomed to Fail
Are you happy with your current healthcare?
If you have ever had the misfortune of needing to go the ER (Emergency Room) or Urgent Care, you were probably incredibly grateful for the ability to access modern medicine’s life-saving modalities, diagnostics, and technologies in your time of peril.
The problem is that most of the same conventional techniques and tools that are effective for suppressing symptoms in a time of crisis are also commonly used for chronic care. The results of this have been dismissal. The difference between managing disease vs. promoting health is not just a contemplative wordplay, it is real.
The United States Healthcare System is the most expensive compared to much of the developed world. Furthermore, it has the least impressive results.1-4
What does that mean for the individual? This post will explore how the high cost and poor results of sick care are impacting our health for the worse.
The High Cost of Sick Care
If you did not have any, or well-covered insurance for the above emergency scenario, you probably are all too aware of modern medicine’s financial repercussions. You would not be alone in this pocketbook shock revelation. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data found that 19% of households could not pay for medical care upfront and conferred an average debt of $2,000.5
In 2018, JAMA published an article that compared the United States to ten of the highest-income countries. The results were sobering:
The United States spent approximately twice as much as other high-income countries on medical care, yet utilization rates in the United States were largely similar to those in other nations. Prices of labor and goods, including pharmaceuticals, and administrative costs appeared to be the major drivers of the difference in overall cost between the United States and other high-income countries. As patients, physicians, policy makers, and legislators actively debate the future of the US health system, data such as these are needed to inform policy decisions.2
Other explanations for America’s medical high costs with low yielding health results include insurers “running the show” rather than doctors, insurance consolidation, and no price limits for new treatments.1
So, what do we get for all our spending? Not much…
The Low Yield Results of Modern Medicine
Interesting, although the United States was found to perform the most “preventative screenings” than its comparison countries, the Commonwealth Fund reports:
Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.4
Furthermore, as compared to ten other high-income countries, the United States has:
- the lowest life expectancy
- highest suicide rate
- highest chronic disease rates
These results were obtained from comparative statistics of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom and on the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average, comprising of 36 high-income member countries.4
What we really have is a sick care system that is economically driven for profit, not people-driven to promote wellness.
So, let me ask you this question, are you really getting a “good deal” on your health because your insurance pays for it? Or, are you getting your money’s worth for your out-of-pocket medical debt?
Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again, and Expecting Different Results
You may have heard the common phrase that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
If you had a car that you kept taking to the same mechanic who repeatedly only addressed the symptoms of its issues, would you keep going back? For example:
- When you heard weird noses from the engine, the solution was to install a sound muffler.
- After that, the brakes were squeaky, so they applied lube to them and put in a noise concealer.
- Next, the car didn’t start! The fix implemented consisted of a jump start and the option to have a tow truck drag you and your car around for a few dollars/mile.
You get the picture with my pathetic, ignorant, mechanic analogies.
Your problem might appear to be gone… but is it? Is the carreallysafe to drive? Heck, I’m not saying that you may not need a jump start initially, and you may need certain diagnostics done and quick fixes applied, but eventually, you will have to figure out what’s really going on under the hood that made the car immobile. Otherwise, it will keep getting worse as the mechanic keeps getting richer.
This analogy holds for our medical system.
It is broken for promoting healthcare but well-run for disease management.
So, where do we go from here?
Naturopathic and Functional Medicine for Whole-Body, Person-Centered Care
The fact is, we need access to sick care in cases of emergency and when symptom suppression is needed during times of body pathology and disease. Naturopathic and functional medicine providers integrate the best of conventional medicine knowledge and supplement it with natural and holistic modalities to assist with sick care as they promote optimal health.
That being said, there is a need for safe incorporation, as both conventional and integrative medicine are here to stay. Impressively, licensed naturopathic doctors are the only professionals that are schooled in herbal-drug interactions and required to pass two sets of board exams for competency in both basic and clinical and holistic medicine sciences. 6
The naturopathic doctor (ND) approaches wellness with a focus on how to address the root cause of any imbalance or disease. The goal is also to prevent further sickness and keep someone at optimal health using the least invasive and most natural measures possible. Several studies have validated that this form of personalized treatment is effective and with much lower cost than its alternative.7-8
I think it’s high time that our healthcare system and global population embrace the profession that is trained in keeping people healthy, don’t you?
This won’t require just a transactional shift, but a mindset shift as well.
My Naturopathic Practice Viewpoint
As a naturopathic doctor I form therapeutic relationships with my clients and work with them to help them reach their health goals. I use individualized wellness plans based on their genetics, socioeconomics, culture, spiritual, and lifestyle priorities.
Although I work with all people, most of my work is with women who have placed their needs aside for years and have been overworked, overstressed, and overwhelmed. I help them flush out how their current lack of self-care priorities and other factors have contributed to their hormonal, digestive, and mental health imbalances.
In my practice as a naturopathic doctor, I find that a huge missing piece in modern and some integrative approaches is the dismissal of the imperative connection between the mind-body, social connections, and spiritual beliefs. During the world’s recent turmoil, I discussed how naturopathic medicine is poised to fill in the gap for holistic mental health and how NDs could be support agents for change in addressing the current psychological crisis. NDs have the ability to provide the nation with safe, holistic, and natural emotional support solutions. When these tools are used with my clients who have struggled and been blocked for years, I have witnessed massive shifts for the better.
Conclusion – From Optimizing Individualized Health to Transforming Wellness Globally
This post mostly focused on how naturopathic medicine can provide a solution to how to become and stay well on the individual level. It provided examples of how sick care is not effective for chronic disease and how a new approach, using naturopathic medicine philosophies, is needed.
Last weekend, I attended the annual American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) 2021 Convention. This year, the format was a hybrid split between live attendees and virtual, and not knowing how the world would be just a few months ago, I decided to partake in my own home.
What is as exciting, is the fact that naturopathic medicine can be utilized on group, societal, and community levels. In an upcoming post on my website, I will share with you exactly how naturopathic medicine is transforming and innovating healthcare by highlighting some of the key lectures during the convention. Topics on environmental health, the climate, bias, and cultural differences will be reviewed.
I’m thrilled to pass on what I learned, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this article in the comment section.
To learn more about me and how I approach individual care as a naturopathic doctor, click here and explore the testimonials. You can also join my Facebook group and email list to become informed of upcoming group and online, interactive programs.
1. Harvard T.H. Chan: School of Public Health. The most expensive health care system in the world [Web page]. Harvard Chan website. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-most-expensive-health-care-system-in-the-world/. Accessed July 19, 2021.
2. Papanicolas I, Woskie LR, Jha AK. Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries. JAMA. 2018 Mar 13;319(10):1024-1039.doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.1150.
3. California Health Care Foundation. Infographic — US Health Care Spending: Who Pays? [Web page]. CHCF website. https://www.chcf.org/publication/us-health-care-spending-who-pays/#related-links-and-downloads. Accessed July 19, 2021.
4. The Common Wealth Fund. U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes? [Web page.] The Common Wealth Fund website. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/jan/us-health-care-global-perspective-2019. Accessed July 19, 2021.
5. Bennet N, Eggleston J, Mykyta L, Sullivan, B. Who Had Medical Debt in the United States: 19% of U.S. Households Could Not Afford to Pay for Medical Care Right Away. [Web page]. United States Census Beauru Website. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/04/who-had-medical-debt-in-united-states.html. Accessed July 19, 2021.
6. American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Professional Education [Web page]. AANP website. https://naturopathic.org/page/Education. Accessed July 19, 2021.
7. Seely D, Szczurko O, Cooley K, et al. Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial [published correction appears in CMAJ. 2016 Sep 6;188(12 ):901]. CMAJ. 2013;185(9):E409-E416. doi:10.1503/cmaj.120567.
8. Herman, Patricia M. ND, PhD; Szczurko, Orest ND, MSc; Cooley, Kieran ND, MSc; Seely, Dugald ND, MSc A Naturopathic Approach to the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2014 – Volume 56 – Issue 2 – p 171-176 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000066
Sarah LoBisco, ND, IFCMP, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and has received her certification in functional medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). She holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo and is also certified in Applied Kinesiology. She is a speaker on integrative health, has several publications, and does independent contracting or companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. Dr. LoBisco currently incorporates her training as a naturopathic doctor and functional medicine practitioner through writing, researching, teaching, private practice, and through her independent contracting work for companies regarding supplements, nutraceuticals, essential oils, and medical foods. She maintains her private wellness consultation practice through virtual telephone consultations and is an adjunct professor at the Nutrition Institute at the University of Bridgeport. Dr. LoBisco also enjoys continuing to educate and empower her readers through her blogs and social media. Her main blog can be found at dr-lobisco.com.