The Truth About The U.S. Healthcare System

health. I know how ridiculous that concept sounds but after having trained over 100 people and mentoring countless others, I know that it is a cold, hard fact. And if one looks to the scientific data, they actually find not only confirmation of this hypothesis, but further evidence that things are very, very bad in regards to our own concern about personal health.

For example, did you know that individual healthcare in the U.S. costs about twice as much as it does in the rest of the developed world? Or that if the three trillion dollar U.S. healthcare system were its own country, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world? Why is this? The answer is simple: everyone in this country is way, way too sick.

And if you think that because you are covered by insurance that someone else will fix it, guess again. Mad yet? You should be. We are spending more than double what we used to in regards to the costs of healthcare and we are still getting poor care.

Of all ailments to be afflicted with, chronic diseases are the most prevalent, costly, and preventable. And yet we don’t prevent them. Why is this? Where is the disconnect? Medical spending has grown exponentially in the past few years. It is one of the elements that is also helping to break our economy. Researchers and even the average layperson have known this for years, and yet we do nothing.

The Evidence

How many of us know someone who is so grossly overweight that they can barely function? Or someone on so many medications that they can barely remember to take them all? These are two things that are not only all-too-common, but are also easily prevented with a change in lifestyle and eating habits. Again, where is the disconnect here?

Did you know that modest differences in care can be associated with sizable differences in costs and complications? Or do you, like many Americans, never think about healthcare until it’s too late? I don’t want to seem too harsh here, but there are literally no other options except to become aware of the problem and try to fix it.

And just one person, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself and try to take care of others around you, or at least make them more aware. The U.S. healthcare system’s costs currently exceed 17% of our gross domestic product – and continue to rise. In case you like charts, here are two simple visuals of the health care crisis.

Are you shocked yet? What can you, as a reader, do? Well, start with yourself. If you don’t exercise, get moving! If you are eating poorly, get on top of that and fix it. Need to lose weight? Then do it. We are all paying the price for other’s sloth and gluttony, and it has no end in sight. We have to figure out a solution that will work here and now in the United States.

On top of the above problems, medical experts estimate that 1 in 20 patients is misdiagnosed, while $300 billion is spent each year on emergency room visits, hospital care and extra trips to physicians’ offices by people not taking their prescription drugs correctly.

Wake Up!

In case you are feeling unmotivated at the dawn of this new year, perhaps some of these figures will motivate you. As a part of a younger generation, we were never warned of these problems of overpopulation, healthcare spending, and other current issues. On top of the economic crisis, we are being hit with all of these problems at once. We didn’t ask for them nor do we have all the answers, but becoming aware of these problems is a great way to start.

Take a look at your own health for a minute. Are you as healthy as you could be? If not, what’s holding you back? Is it laziness? Lack of priorities? Stress? Or have you simply become complacent? Complacency doesn’t help you achieve your goals or help you lose weight. It makes things worse. Others report that Americans with recent firsthand experience of the U.S. medical system say there are serious problems with the cost and quality of care.

Have you become more aware of the true cost of disease, yet? Lets look at one disease which is killing us nationwide and worldwide. Diabetes. The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. I simply have no words to convey just how shocking and terrible those figures are.

Diabetes (type 2) is something that is entirely within your control when it comes to avoiding it or falling victim to it. Eating a low-carb diet, maximizing nutrient dense foods, and avoiding high sugar juices and snacks is a simple way to avoid this disease. Yes, it may be unpleasant for at first when adjusting to a low sugar lifestyle, but isn’t it better than the alternative?

The Numbers Get Worse

Or maybe we should look at the cost of obesity? At a staggering cost of $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States, obesity is not going away in prevalence or in cost. Childhood obesity alone costs over $14 billion per year. Are you shocked yet? This is not a small, “will go away on its own” problem. Our poor health is killing all of us, quite literally.

Then there is the cost of metabolic syndrome, which affects both the obese and non-obese alike. Since roughly 50% of the adult population suffers from metabolic syndrome and we have about 316 million people living in the United States, the cost here is unbelievably high. According to research, the average annual health costs of someone with metabolic syndrome is $5,732. Figuring very conservatively, this brings us to an annual total cost of roughly $500,000,000,000. That’s $500 billion. If that’s not terrifying, I don’t know what is.

All of these conditions are largely dependent on lifestyle choices alone. This means that you can control them. You can help them get better or avoid conditions altogether. It is all within your grasp. Until you accept that responsibility, you and I will continue to pay the price of disease. We, as a country of individuals, have gotten ourselves into this mess. We are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it.

Personal Responsibility

What is holding you back? If you’ve taken care of yourself and are in good shape, help others. Inform others. Don’t let them sit idly by and kill our economy and their health. Even those with a very modest budget can avoid sugar. Need some quality sources of fat in your diet but can’t afford a lot? Buy some extra virgin olive oil in bulk. Buying chicken in bulk is another quick and easy fix to start moving in the right direction. Remove all the soda from your house.

Drop all liquid calories. Start exercising. Get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Eliminate undue sources of stress. Drop those sugary, empty carbs and start eating sweet potatoes instead. And again, if you are further along on this path, help someone who isn’t. Everyone has a family member, friend, or someone they know who is so unhealthy that you can see it destroying them.

Conclusion

Most of us are going to still be here in 40 years, and one must wonder – in what shape will our healthcare system and our citizens be by then? Take yourself out of your own bubble and think about how much we need widespread change. It may seem insurmountable, unlikely, or maybe even impossible, but it’s not. If each one of us enacts change in ourselves and then helps others, we can make quite a difference.

What are your experiences with disease like? Do you have a good or bad story about our healthcare system? What is something you do, to safeguard your health? Let me know in the comments!

This article originally appeared on PaleoHacks.