by Dr. Mercola
May 09, 2011
In 2008, U.S. health care expenditures
continued to skyrocket, growing at an annual rate of 4.4 percent for
the year, slower than some recent years, yet still outpacing
inflation and the growth of national income.
The total spending was about $7,681 per American and accounted for
16.2 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the
highest of any industrialized country.
Medically unnecessary procedures, hospitalizations and prescription
drugs all contributed to this figure of almost $8,000 per person
living in the US.
So, what exactly are we getting for our money?
Paradigm Today - Promoting Profits over Prevention
Currently, the U.S.
spends more on health care than any other
country in the world.
According to the Kaiser Foundation,
care costs in 2008 in the U.S. were over $2.3 trillion. That's more
than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight
times the $253 billion spent in 1980.
With these continually rising
costs of healthcare in the US, you would think the quality of
medical care would be the best on the planet.
The question is this:
Actually Living in a "Sick" Care Model?
Americans' overall (declining) health and their access to
state-of-the-art medical facilities factor into these exorbitant
yearly health care expenditures.
But a majority of these costs ,
when put under the microscope, clearly have more to do with
promoting ever increasing corporate profits than with making
Americans healthier. From government agencies like the FDA to the
insurance empire, to health care providers and
Big Pharma, the new
primary goal of health care industry in the US has transformed into
making money off of sick people.
The drug industry in particular is now primarily focused on treating
illness, not promoting health, and has an industry
projection of over $880 billion in sales in 2011. That's equal to
one-third of TOTAL health care expenditures in 2008!
And guess what?
Top selling drugs have nothing to do with preventive health either
physical or mental! The vast majority of them are sold to you based
on their ability to lower or reduce isolated symptoms coming from an
underlying imbalance in your body.
The more imbalance inside you, the more symptoms, and the more
symptoms the more drugs you need.
That's what the drug companies have been telling America for the
better part of two centuries, starting with the "patent medicines"
formulations from yesteryear. It seems to me that the drug companies
have now taken patent medicines to their ultimate pinnacle: a pill
for every symptom needed every day.
Is this not a phenomenal business model?
The only thing they need to keep raking in their billions in profits
is an endless supply of symptoms, which precludes allowing you to
regain your optimal health, because that would drive you out of
their business model. An optimally healthy American does NOT fit in
their business model.
The sooner you realize this, the sooner you and your family can "opt
out" of the health industry's current "sick care" model and truly
begin to regain your health.
are NOT the Only Profit Center in the "Sick Care" Business Model
What may shock you - it's not just the drug industry that looks at
sickness as a Wall Street commodity.
anesthesiologists - even medical schools - make costly treatments
the primary tenets of their health care goals, rather than stressing
far more cost effective preventive care.
For years the business of putting people in the hospital was so
great that in 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
(CMS) started a campaign to
reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.
As an example of the cost of these unnecessary admissions, the state
of Texas determined it could
save $13.5 million a year by preventing
just one unnecessary hospitalization in every health agency in the
state! Multiply that by every state in the union, and that would
equal hundreds of millions of dollars in savings each year.
Hospitals aren't alone in cashing in on your continuing sickness.
Surgeons, for example, are always looking for ways to maximize their
The online Becker's Ambulatory Surgery
Centers (ASC) Review even tells surgeons how to add to their bottom
line by increasing outpatient services:
Ear, nose and throat specialists
(ENTs) are advised to put tubes in children's ears (myringotomies),
and to perform tonsillectomies, corrective surgeries on
noses, and endoscopic procedures which take very little time
but add to the coffers. It takes 15 to 30 minutes to do a
septoplasty (nose reconstruction) and insurance companies
pay an average of $1,600, the Review advises the ENTs.
Endoscopy can take 30 minutes to two hours and pays up to
Orthopedic and spinal surgeons
are encouraged to pad their paychecks by adding ancillary
services such as physical therapy, performing MRI/Imaging
and electromyography nerve testing (EMGs), selling durable
medical equipment for use in a patient's home, and to invest
in their own private ambulatory surgery center, if they
Urologists are told to consider
doing endoscopic procedures on the urethra, prostate, and
bladder, and to perform a variety of incontinence procedures
for both men and women.
They also can add to their
income by using a neurostimulating device with patients with
overactive bladder - a procedure that typically brings in
$15,000 per patient - and by performing kidney and urethral
stone removals, penile implants, and vasectomy reversals.
The penile implants can be done on patients as young as 19
or as old as 90, the Review says, to the tune of $9,000 to
$10,000 per patient.
While I would hope none of these
procedures are ever done unnecessarily, how can you tell what's
necessary and what's frivolous?
Health Industry - The Most Absurd of All
Surgeons aren't the only specialists padding their paychecks.
mental health industry, for example, is so eager to find something
new to treat that they are constantly updating their psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Their manual has been controversial in the past, but the latest
DSM-V, has to be regarded as the most questionable ever
devised because they've now listed people with a variety of
previously ordinary conditions as suddenly having a treatable mental
illness, such as
children who struggle with math problems or kids
who can't easily master
If you think that's crazy, then know that one disorder that didn't
make the manual was something they were planning to dub "psychosis
Had it been approved, "PRS" would have "identified"
treatable children by predicting they would get a mental illness as
early as at birth, which could then be treated before it occurred.
I'm not making this up.
Psychiatrists actually supported this lame-brained idea.
the former chair of a previous DSM task force, Allen Frances, had
enough ethics to stop that one, stating that this "syndrome" stood
"…the most ill-conceived and
potentially harmful" diagnosis they'd ever contrived, and that
it would "misidentify many teenagers who are not really at risk
for psychosis." He also said "the treatment they would most
often receive (atypical antipsychotic medication) has no proven
Allen then added that such a "diagnosis"
would encourage more drug marketing (surprise, surprise!), as well
as influence parents and clinicians to use this contrived new
"disorder" to treat children.
I agree - particularly since we
already know that drug prescriptions for antipsychotic medicines
nearly tripled in the past 15 years, with unprecedented numbers
children under age 18 taking them.
according to Medscape.com, the number of children on
Medicaid (an entity the government can easily track) who were
prescribed antipsychotics doubled (twice as many profit centers for
Big Pharma) between 2001 and 2005.
In four years the number of Medicaid children on antipsychotics
doubled, is this not cause for serious alarm? Why haven't you heard
about this in the mainstream media, if indeed the number of
psychotic children in the Medicaid population has doubled so
And there's more, a whopping 41.3 percent of these "psychotic"
children have no identifiable reason to support taking these
The Wall Street Journal added that between 2002 and 2007,
antipsychotic prescriptions for children increased by a staggering
44.6 percent - making up a now incredible 15 percent of TOTAL
antipsychotic drug sales.
Is this merely a newly identified market
for these legal drug pushers to infiltrate?
Or have our children
suddenly all become "unhinged" at once?
And if the latter is truly the case, why aren't alarm bells going
off at government agencies if 15 percent America's TOTAL diagnosed
psychotic population is now under 18 years of age?
Isn't this a pretty profound statistic about the future of the US?
Ironically, this takes us back to where we started - the
overprescribing of prescription drugs.
When you consider that health
officials say that many other drugs like cholesterol medicines and
antibiotics are also overprescribed, it's easy see why our
drug-based health care costs are skyrocketing.
Technology Means Higher Bills but Few Additional Benefits
Another factor in escalating medical costs in the U.S. is the
ever-increasing use of new technology - again, often when it's not
indicated or needed.
Hospitals claim their largest expense is
connected to wages and labor-related benefits, but the Kaiser
Foundation reports that the development and use of new medical
technology may account for one-half or more of long-term medical
In simple language that means that hospitals are acquiring and using
the latest new equipment. That is supposed to mean better outcomes
for patients - but as
bnet.com points out, it also raises questions
about whether all that new equipment really is necessary? A 2009
study found that Americans spent $85.9 billion each year for
imaging, surgery, drugs, and doctors' visits for lower-back pain -
most of it for no benefit.
According to Ray Baker, president of the North American Spine
Newsweek Magazine in March 2010:
"The use of MRI within six weeks of
the start of lower-back pain is not only not useful, but it
increases the number of surgeries, treatments, and costs."
It's no secret that the U.S. is the
world's No. 1 user of MRI scans.
But did you know that orthopedic
surgeons are notorious for padding their pockets by ordering them,
and then performing them in their own offices? This is a concern
because it's estimated that the U.S. spends $700 billion every year
on all kinds of
unnecessary medical tests that do not benefit
Again, that would be nearly ONE-THIRD of what the US spent
on total health care in 2008!
That means prescriptions drugs and unnecessary medical tests equals
TWO-THIRDS of all health care expenditures in 2008 dollars! Now I
hope you are beginning to understand where this staggering amount of
money the US spends on "health care" is actually going.
These unnecessary tests include:
Routine CT scans in the ER
Antibiotics for cold viruses
that are not even treatable with antibiotics
Pap tests for women who don't
have a cervix
Sadly, unnecessary screenings and
treatments in themselves are also part of the "sick care" model that
are particularly dangerous - 30,000 Americans covered by Medicare
are killed every year by
unnecessary medical procedures, according
to Dr. Elliott Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School.
Do you see the FDA moving to warn Americans to be wary or
unnecessary medical procedures? It's a rhetorical question, because
the FDA now views the drug and medical industries as their "partner"
and "client", not as industries that the public needs to be
And while this information may not sit well with orthopedic and
spine surgeons who were hoping they could
increase the number of
spinal procedures this year, the truth is that ineffectual spinal
fusions surgeries could be
adding as much as $11.1 billion to the
annual cost of medical care in America.
As reported in an
study in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
researchers concluded that patients who had a complex - and
expensive - spinal fusion were nearly three times as likely to
develop a life-threatening complication and the surgeries didn't
result in dramatically better outcomes.
Conventional Medicine Questions these Practices
This above referenced JAMA article questioned why these types of
operations had increased 15-fold in just six years (surprise!) while
the hospital charges increased 40 percent (surprise!).
The authors' answer:
"The introduction and marketing of
new surgical devices and the influence of key opinion leaders
may stimulate more invasive surgery, even in the absence of new
indications… Financial incentives to hospitals and surgeons
for more complex procedures may (also) play a role as may
desires of surgeons to be local innovators."
What more can I say?
The author is outright admitting that one reason medical care is so
expensive in the U.S. is because of financial incentives and the
marketing of new devices. And surgeons who are "local innovators"
are innovating what, exactly?
Better marketing techniques for expensive procedures?
Remember, according to the same article, the patients who received
these new procedures did not have dramatically better outcomes. Did
I mention that the article also points out that life-threatening
complications from these unnecessary surgeries nearly TRIPLED, and
that hospital stays also increased - making the average cost for one
these procedures balloon from an average of $23,724 to $80,888?
Profits promoted over preventative care. Is this not a fitting
picture of exactly what's wrong with health care in America?
Patients Translate into Huge Possibilities for the Bottom Line
Women stand the greatest risk of receiving an unnecessary medical
If you are a female living in the US, when it comes to
healthcare, you might as well have a target on your back.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that
one-third of American women have had a hysterectomy by age 60; and
half of them have had one by age 65. Yet 85 percent of these
surgeries are unnecessary, according to Ernst Bartsich, a clinical
associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.
This adds up to more than $17 billion a year on
direct doctor and
hospital charges for hysterectomies.
If you've had a complete hysterectomy, meaning you've also had your
ovaries and cervix removed, you don't need a Pap test, which
examines cells scraped from your cervix. Yet, a study in 2004 showed
10 million women a year who don't have a cervix are still
getting Pap tests consisting of a scraping of cells from their
vaginal walls - when no professional organization recommends this
screening for women without a cervix!
For younger women who are in their child-bearing years, the health
profession has found a different way to make money off you, to the
tune of an
extra $3 billion a year.
Spontaneous deliveries - waiting for a baby to come on its own - can
be time-consuming for modern doctors, and can test your patience if
you're the mom-to-be. That's why today
32 percent of American births
today are through Caesarean sections (C-sections).
According to Intermountain Healthcare, C-sections are
costly in more
ways than one:
They are the most common
surgical procedure performed in America, increasing more
than 50 percent since the 1990s
They cost an average of $16,671,
compared to $9,428 for a vaginal delivery
Many are being done after a
pre-term, elective induction that hasn't proceeded quickly
Additionally, a New England Journal of
Medicine study showed women have
up to four times the risk of
complications with a C-section than a vaginal birth, ranging between
$2,000 and $200,000 in additional costs.
And the complications can be serious, according to
a report in the
Wall Street Journal, putting the babies at increased risk of brain,
liver, and lung development problems. Caesarean-delivered babies are
also more likely to need CPR, and to have significantly higher rates
of respiratory distress, sepsis and hypoglycemia.
So why are C-sections so prevalent?
It's largely a desire for control on the part of families,
physicians and hospitals, the
And according to
USA Today, there's another reason:
incentives" for doctors and hospitals to use these procedures,
including bonuses for labor inductions which add costs and increase
the risks for C-sections (surprise!).
So there you have it: for the sake of economic incentives,
convenience, and control over what day and even time of day the
birth occurs, babies' lives are being put in danger - at an
additional annual cost of $3 billion to the U.S. health care system.
From birth through teenage years, our current health care system has
a goal of maximizing each new little profit center we usher into
their business model. Because that's what the system is designed to
do, put profits first at the expense of everything else, including
the health of our babies.
What chance do YOU have against this system?
Educating yourself and your family to their business model and their
seemingly endless tricks to maximize profits. Because an educated
and healthy consumer is the worst enemy of our current "sick care"
model that passes for health care in the US.
Wait a Minute,
Isn't This Outrageous?
The drug and medical industry's mounting greed IS outrageous,
especially when you consider in this specific instance of C-sections
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that 33 to 75 percent
of C-sections are totally unnecessary!
What's really maddening is
that a study done between 2005 and 2006 showed that the cost of
hospital charges for maternal and newborn care rose from $79 billion
to $86 billion in just one year, with $2.5 billion of it as a result
of unnecessary C-sections.
In fact, delivering babies is the #1
profit center in hospitals, and rising every year.
Some points to ponder:
In 2008 (latest data available)
facility charges billed for "mother's pregnancy and delivery
" and "newborn infants" ($98 billion) far exceeded charges
for any other hospital condition in the United States.
"Mother's pregnancy and
delivery" and "newborn infants" were the two most expensive
conditions billed to Medicaid in 2008, involving 26 percent
of hospital charges to Medicaid, or $46 billion.
Nineteen other countries in the
world have lower C-section rates than the U.S.; 29 nations
have lower maternal mortality rates; 35 have lower early
neonatal mortality rates; and 33 have lower neonatal
This last statistic is particularly
concerning, because despite outspending every nation on the planet
on healthcare, there are 29 or more countries ahead of the US in key
childbirth related mortality rates.
Simply stated, the US spends
more money to have more mothers and both pre-term and full-term
children die than just about 30 other nations.
But I'd venture a guess that our profit margins for corporations
contributing to these staggeringly bad mortality numbers is NOT
below those in the other 30 nations that are safer places to have a
And if there were stockholders who held shares in something called
the "public health" corporation, they would be in absolute revolt
over these numbers and boards of directors of this corporation would
be under pressure to resign.
Wait a minute, isn't the US Government
the head of something much akin to a "public health" corporation?
So where is the outrage in the shareholders (you)?
Top-Selling Drugs Cause More Harm than Good
I don't even need to say the word
Vioxx to explain how some drugs do
more harm than good.
From anti-psychotics to pain-killers, cancer
drugs and statins, many top-selling drugs are nothing more than ways
to make drug companies and drug prescribers simply richer.
As an example, I'm offering this short list of drugs that, like
Vioxx, have shown they can cause harm. But be aware: This is just a
The list of all the drugs that belong in this category is
so long it's not possible to include them all here:
Avandia, the diabetes drug for
which its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, has agreed to pay $250
million to settle 5,500 claims, can cause heart attacks and
kill users. GSK said in January it planned to set aside $6.4
billion for costs relating to litigation on this drug. LINE
BREAK Avandia was recently pulled off the market in Europe
due to its health risks. A 2007 study linked it to a 43
percent increased risk of heart attack and a 64 percent
higher risk of cardiovascular death than patients treated
with other methods. More than 80,000 diabetics have suffered
lethal heart attacks from this dangerous drug.
11 cholesterol drugs, commonly
statins, are linked with serious side effects.
Statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, acting by blocking
the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making
cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase). The fact that statin drugs
cause side effects is well established - there are now 900
studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut
from muscle problems to increased cancer risk
The birth control pills
Yasmin were touted to be safer than any other pill on the
market when they first came out. But it wasn’t long before a
flurry of lawsuits began claiming that they cause numerous
health problems including deep vein thrombosis (blood clots
in the deep veins), strokes, heart attacks and gallbladder
Levaquin, a powerful antibiotic,
has been linked to tendon ruptures of the Achilles,
shoulders, biceps, hands and thumb, and is the target of
Accutane, a drug that was used
to treat acne for many years, is also the center of multiple
lawsuits. It was pulled off the market in 2009 after users
reported side effects that included severe gastrointestinal
problems including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Elevated risk of birth
defects in the children of pregnant women also were
Other dangerous drugs that have either
been pulled off the market or are the center of lawsuits (even as
they are still sold) include,
the smoking cessation drug Chantix
pain killer Darvocet
the "bone-strengthening" drug Fosamax, which
is made up of bisphosphonate compounds that have been found to
actually contribute to bone death
the statin drug Crestor
serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug Paxil, which has been
linked to suicides and suicidal thoughts,
...and many, many others.
At this point I would be remiss not to mention
vaccines, which can
wreak havoc on your immune system.
The truth is vaccines are just another way that Big Pharma makes
money by selling something that might make you sick - or sicker.
Just one example is the flu vaccine:
officials now know that the
seasonal flu vaccine in 2008-2009 did absolutely nothing to prevent
flu in children - and actually increased their risk of getting
Yet, with the help of the rulings by the
World Health Organization
FDA and individual states' mandated vaccination
schedules, vaccine makers have a guaranteed bank roll in the form of
In stark contrast to times past when vaccines weren't such an
attractive market, they're now such a guaranteed profit center that
Wall Street investors are being told to
bank, bank, bank on
of Your Own Health
We know nearly 26 million Americans now have diabetes, and over one
in four of all Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
know the cost to treat heart disease in the U.S. is expected to
triple by 2030, and that high blood pressure and cholesterol are
"out of control" in the U.S.
We know the U.S. is the most obese country in the world, which has
contributed to skyrocketing rates of diabetes, heart disease and
We also know the U.S. spends more on health care than any other
industrialized country. Yet, despite all this spending, the U.S.
ranks 14th in mortality rates worldwide - meaning 13 other countries
have a lower preventable death rate than the U.S. despite spending
less money on health care, and two of these countries are the now
nearly bankrupt nations of Greece and Ireland!
But the question is - why?
Some analysts say this poor showing is linked to declining rates of
insured persons in the U.S. Others claim the figures are just plain
But I suspect the high U.S. mortality rates have more to do
obesity rates, lifestyle patterns, and our seriously flawed
health care paradigm ("sick care") than it has to do with insurance
coverage or skewed numbers.
The current US "healthcare" paradigm is the one that defines
preventive care as ingesting drugs to treat symptoms, not addressing
lifestyle changes that can actually create wellness.
It's a paradigm that's being perpetuated today, even as our federal
health officials tout prevention measures.
Don't believe me? Look at the Surgeon General's current "preventive"
Healthy People 2020. While the goals of Healthy People
are stated as reduced illness, disability, and death, what the plan
actually stresses are assessments, diagnostic criteria, disease
monitoring, and data collection.
The plan acknowledges behavior modification with dietary and
lifestyle changes are important to reaching the Healthy People
goals, but aside from a few sample awareness programs, the main
"preventive" strategies are screening, screening, and more screening
for diseases and illnesses you already have.
A "blueprint" for reformed health care compiled by the Center for
American Progress and the Institute on Medicine as a Profession also
has ideas for improving health care but doesn't mention promoting
wellness. The fact is no one seems to be discussing changing the
paradigm of "managing sickness" that the U.S. is currently stuck in.
No one, that is, except the U.S. military.
Military is Seeing the Light…
In a just-released, 132-page report, "Total Force Fitness for the 21st
Century - A New Paradigm," our military is advocating a holistic
mind, body and spirit approach to getting and staying fit.
That's right. The U.S. military is advocating a new paradigm in
health that not only includes a whole-life, holistic approach, but
true preventive health care that goes beyond simple physical
performance and emphasizes maintaining health before illness occurs.
For the military, this new paradigm will stress maintaining a
healthy weight, with positive lifestyle programs that include proper
nutrition and physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being.
That way, instead of treating disease, military personnel can learn
ways to just stay healthy, the publication says.
Just imagine what would happen if everyone, and not just the
military, focused on prevention rather than treatment!
It may sound impossible. But it's not.
I've written countless articles as well as a book on how you can
take control of your health, and I can assure you that you
absolutely can get an edge on changing the treatment paradigm for
yourself - and your children - by adopting a healthier lifestyle,
even if it's just one step at a time.
We need to eliminate the use of all sodas, especially diet sodas
which are nothing more than neurotoxic poisons, and concentrate on
drinking fresh, pure water and eating more, organic, fresh, raw
fruits and vegetables. Adding an exercise program to your day, even
if it's only 15 minutes, is also a step you can take immediately
towards taking control of your health.
Have trouble sleeping? Instead of taking drugs, try different
combinations of these proven methods to help you get a good night's
Also, help yourself achieve the goal of optimal wellness by finding
a physician who embraces a holistic lifestyle paradigm. Not one who
prescribes you an increasing list of pharmaceutical drugs to
"manage" your increasing sickness.
It's not too late. I promise; not only for you, but for your
children and future generations.
But you have to embrace taking control
of your health today.