Whenever I see certain patients suffering from chronic illnesses and morbidity, I can’t help but feel empathetic. As a health care professional, appreciating the phrase ‘health is wealth’ came naturally to me. My seven years of tertiary education and four years of experience in high volume practices gave me the privilege to understand firsthand that health really is wealth. However, for others, this is not the case. Most people understand the concept and when pressed further, many would actually claim that health and wellness is one of their top priorities in life. But do people really value their health? Do you know what it means to be healthy? There’s a saying that spurns inaction: "Everyone knows what’s right and what’s good for them but only a few take action.” This is absolutely true in most cases but not in healthcare. Most people are misinformed and sold on ideas that do not work and yet, the masses blindly follow and believe what’s fed to them. It is my intention with this article to challenge you and transform your paradigm of health. I will also share with you the following:
- The true definition of health and why today’s mainstream medicine is failing.
- The ugly truth of health care being a business. More sick people equals more money.
- How much it costs to be ‘healthy’ and how quickly it is becoming unsustainable.
- How to take back control over your health.
- How much you can save by exercising, meditating and receiving chiropractic care.
This article will change your programmed paradigms and viewpoints on health and healthcare. Some of you may even get upset. It isn’t my job to please everybody but it is to speak the truth and help people gain their control back in life and health. Whether you love or hate the article, you will come to realise that self-improvement and health have by far the best ROI in life.
There are over 400 identified human values that range from abundance to zest and of course, health and wellness are on the list. The first thing to accept as a doctor or patient is that everyone has different values. There is never a right or wrong. We have different backgrounds, histories, social norms and culture. For example, I have devoted over 10 years in learning, mastering and practising chiropractic and pharmacology. This career path has naturally guided me to highly prioritise health. But rarely is this true for the patients I get to serve. If health is not one of your top priorities, that's fine. But if you do agree that health is important, you should actively find ways to achieve and maintain it. Let me start off by first explaining what health truly means (to me).
What Is Health?
Similar to people having different values in life, people define health in their own special way. As I mentioned before, I had the privilege of having worked in two polarising sides of health care. One as a pharmacologist who was concerned about the effectiveness and interactions of drugs for diseases and the human body, and as a chiropractor who corrects spinal malfunction/misalignments in order to help people move and function better without the use of drugs or surgery. Throughout the years of my different career paths and clinical experience, my definition of health has vastly changed and evolved. I thought the epitome of health was feeling good physically (absence of symptoms) and mentally (being happy, content and fulfilled). What was so great about this definition was that health and wellness were easily achievable through the use of drugs. It made more sense because it was simple, quick and accessible. Today, my definition of health is 100% function and not merely the absence of symptoms. To go on further, symptoms don’t mean much to me anymore. They're mere 'signs' or 'bodily cues' that alerts me that something may need further attention. This attention doesn't necessarily have to be in the forms of medication or chiropractic adjustments; they can be the simplest things such as getting more sleep, meditating, taking supplements or doing more exercise. This shift in my definition of health has changed the way I see my body including the health and well-being of my patients. The first thing I had to admit as an ex-pharmacologist was that drugs never actually cured anything but did more harm. Symptoms are like fire alarms. It warns you that your house is on fire. Now imagine this. Your house is on fire and in response to the alarm, you call the firefighters. They arrive on the scene with their axes and hoses and do they do? They swiftly turn the alarms off by cutting its wires. There’s no more alarm and the firefighters celebrate another job well done. Doesn’t this sound insane? The alarm may have stopped but the fire is still there! This is exactly how today’s health care works and what we do for our health all the time. Today’s healthcare is only concerned about the superficial symptoms and in many cases, ignoring the root cause of the problem.
Here are the infamous words of Dr Daniel Kress M.D.:
To go on further, The Journal of American Medical Association reported in 1998 that an estimated 220,000 deaths per year in America alone can be attributed to properly prescribed drugs (i.e. right dose to right person at the right time according to accepted treatment protocols). I’m not saying drugs are completely useless, they’re lifesavers sometimes, but I do believe that today's mainstream medicine is deeply flawed to its core. Do you really think a bag of medication will actually make you healthier? Do you really believe that degeneration and the slow decline in both physical and mental health are a normal part of ageing? Don’t be fooled because it’s not true.
If you’ve read the article this far it’s most likely that you’ve either completely bought the idea, disapproved it or confused. Don’t judge for the time being and understand that the aforementioned definition of health is mine and it doesn’t necessarily have to be yours. But the next piece of information is, however, valid for all of us.
Cost Of Health: People are getting sicker and that makes it a good business.
Being healthy is expensive and wellness is a new luxury. Whether you know it or not, we are programmed into believing that the lack of symptoms equals health and wellness. Despite its fallacies, our current healthcare model is difficult to replace because drugs are cheap, efficient and give instant results. But did you know that reactive healthcare is much more expensive than proactive health care? For example, the Singapore government more than doubled its spending on healthcare in 4 years:
- 2012 - $4.7 billion
- 2016 - $11 billion
Elderly healthcare costs in Singapore is expected to rise tenfold by 2030 to average SGD$52,000 (US$37,427) per person per year. The article goes on to state that “elderly healthcare across Asia-Pacific region will cost more than US$20 trillion between 2015 and 2030 and calls for urgent action from government, insurers, health care providers, corporates and individual citizens.” SGD$52,000 per person per year just for healthcare? If you have a partner, kids and even parents to look after, that sums up to be a lot of money just to get by. Who has that kind of money on a yearly basis? The reason for this ever increasing healthcare costs is multifactorial. The growing elderly population increased longevity and the society’s mindless addiction to quick fixes. I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll give you an example so it makes more sense.
When you place yourself in a pathologically chronically stressful environment your body goes through a series of physiological changes and adaptations. For example, if you live in high altitudes, your red blood cell count increases to adapt to the environment. If you eat unhealthy foods and smoke cigarettes, your blood pressure goes up in order to pump blood through the thickened blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Your intelligently designed body adapts to the dynamic environment, and it is a survival mechanism. Adaptation (i.e elevated red blood cells or blood pressure) is not a disease nor is it pathological, the chronically stressful environment is. This is what today’s mainstream medicine has a problem with. They “treat” patients by artificially altering the body’s intelligent physiological response to chronic stress rather than to solve the stress itself.
What are the major killers of our society? They are heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes and pneumonia. All of them are diseases of stress and lifestyle and I can confidently tell you that they are all preventable (there may be some of you that are thinking “What about genetic predisposition and inheritance?” That’s another can of worms but in short, read up on ‘Epigenetic’) The reason why healthcare costs are increasing and expected to do so exponentially is that we see our physiological adaptations as diseases. Let’s talk about blood pressure again. If you go see a doctor, he or she will take a blood pressure reading and if it’s high, you would be prescribed a drug to artificially lower it. Because they know (and it is true) that high blood pressure leads to increased risks of heart diseases. However, the flaw is in the false belief of thinking that high blood pressure is a disease rather than the body’s intelligent adaptation to stress. Taking pills will lower your blood pressure and give perceived increase in health but it’s a trap. The underlying issue (chronically pathological environment) is still there. It could be your diet, smoking or the lack of exercise. And because now we’ve forced our bodies to shut down its natural physiological response WITH having the chronic pathological environment still there, your body develops ill-effects not just from the drugs but from increased demands and stress in the body. What happens next? People start developing anxiety, depression and fatigue which of course leads to a new diagnosis and prescription of new drugs.
Today, there are more studies, research, drugs and newly developed surgical procedures than ever before. People are definitely living longer but longevity is not the only metric of health but it's also the quality of life. The mounting number of drugs, its associated side-effects and years of masking symptoms means trouble. Therefore if you have been living a life of quick fixes (drugs and surgery), it is very likely that your healthcare costs will exponentially increase as you age. The most up to date review of the literature (Mar 2017) provided by UpToDate [LINK: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/drug-prescribing-for-older-adults ] states that 87% of community-dwelling adults (aged 62 through 85) takes at least one prescription medication and 36% of the elderly population takes 5 or more. The current healthcare model is flawed and failing, and that's probably the reason why it continues to make so much money. People just get sicker by the day.
Quick Facts That Will Make You Question Today's Mainstream Healthcare
- Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet (UK medical journal) recently put it: "Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may be simply untrue... small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance." Horton laments: "Science has taken a turn towards darkness."
- Unnecessary surgeries might account for 10% to 20% of all operations in some specialities, including a wide range of cardiac procedures — not only stents but also angioplasty and pacemaker implants — as well as many spine-related procedures.
- The practice of unnecessary surgery is rampant. 10-25% of all surgeries including pacemaker, gall bladder removal, knee replacement and spine-related procedures Studies suggest that doctors carry out unnecessary surgery are either indifferent, incompetent or immoral.
- TheBMJ published a study in 2016 revealing that "doctors who receive gifts from drug companies are more likely to prescribe or recommend their products..."
No More Excuses: Be Your Own Doctor Because You Can
Your body is designed intellectually and you're meant to flourish not drown yourself with bags of drugs. You can live your life to the fullest if you become more responsible. Health cannot be bought, it requires self-mastery and discipline. It is something you need to work on constantly. Taking time to exercise, eating healthier foods, meditating, receiving regular chiropractic care and going on vacations are some of the things that you can start doing right now. They are common sense and we all know we should be doing them but we fail to prioritise. Two most common excuses are time and money.
- Time: How can you say that your 9 to 5 job is more important than allocating 30-60 minutes a day for exercise? Most of us almost never fail to have lunch. Most of us never fail to check our latest Facebook feed once every few hours. The truth is that if you can't spare a couple of hours a day for yourself, you're either really poor at time management or you don't have a life. Having no time is having no priorities.
- Money: Money is deeply rooted in all excuses in life. Sometimes we forget that money is a tool that's meant to serve us but we live a life of serving money. Money should be used to improve the qualities of our lives, not to be hoarded and collected like your stamp collection. Without health, wealth becomes meaningless. (Number 1 reason for bankruptcy in the US is medical bills! So get your priorities right!)
How Exercise, Meditation and Chiropractic Reduce Healthcare Costs
Now that we've tackled some of the common objections, let's have a look at the figures how simple changes and lifestyle adoptions can help you live a life of wellness with reduced healthcare costs.
Exercise Saves You $2,500
For people still struggling to make time for exercise, a new study offers a strong incentive: You will save $2,500 a year on healthcare costs. The study included 26,239 men and women and was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study concluded that:
- Inactivity (lack of exercise) costs the world economy $68 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity
- On average, a person who exercise paid $2,500 less in annual health care expenses
- Because the study focused only on expenses related to cardiovascular disease, the actual annual savings from being physically active could be substantially higher than $2,500
- Dr Khurram Nasir, a preventative cardiologist states: "being physically active is good for your wallet."
Meditation Calms Your Wallet
A little meditation a day keeps the doctor away. Stress-related health problems are responsible for up to 80% of visits to the doctor and account for the third highest health care expenditures, behind only heart disease and cancer. Dr James E. Stahl and his team of Harvard researchers studied a mind-body relaxation program offered at Massachusetts General Hospital. The researchers found that:
- People under the relaxation program used 43% fewer medical services than they did the previous year.
- Savings were on average $2,360 per person in emergency room visits alone.
- Regular yoga or meditation could save health care costs anywhere from $640 to $25,500 per patient each year.
Chiropractic Gives You That Cutting Edge
Everything I've discussed here, including how I interpret the term 'health' is everything chiropractic. Chiropractic is a primary healthcare profession that addresses the underlying cause of a dis-ease (notice how chiropractors call a pathological disease as "dis-ease" because most health conditions stem from a state of prolonged pathological environment. A disease is a physiological manifestation of a dis-ease). Below are health statistics between patients with and without chiropractic care (U.S statistics).
Chiropractic care leads to…:
- 59% decrease in hospital days*
- 62% decrease in outpatient surgeries and procedures*
- 85% decrease in pharmaceutical costs*
- Average Medicare payments (all services) for beneficiaries who had chiropractic care: US$4,426**
- Average Medicare payments (all services) for beneficiaries without chiropractic care: US$8,102**
- Surgery rates first contact with: M.D. = 51.3%, Chiropractor = 1.5%
Note#1: *The Alternative Medicine Integration Study of 2007 covering health care costs from 2003-2005. **Utilisation, Cost, Effects of Chiropractic Care on Medicare Program Costs. Muse and Associates 2001.
Note#2: In this article, I haven’t explained in full how chiropractic works to promote natural health and wellness. If you haven’t tried chiropractic yet or curious to find out more, please refer to the links below:
- 3 Unexpected Reasons Why You Should Be Under Chiropractic Care
- Bust The Myths: What Does A Chiropractor Really Do?
- Chiropractic Found To Reverse Spine Disc Degeneration
- 6 Reasons Why Chiropractic Is Controversial
- Is Degeneration Really Due To Old Ageing?
There’s an immeasurable gap between ‘Late’ and ‘Too Late’
Remember that most of your health care costs aren’t being utilised to actually make you healthier. It’s just to help you get by and it’s becoming increasingly expensive. Now is the time to take proactive measures. Now is the time to prioritise. Now is the time to take back control and be responsible for your health.