Monday, June 15, 2009

How to fix "health care" / Taper week 6/8-6/14

I recently read a column about the skyrocketing costs of health care and how we need policy changes now or else the system is going to cripple America and bankrupt our government.

When are geeky policy wonks going to get it? And when are we as a nation going to get it?

Fixing health care costs isn't about policy. It's not about anyone in Washington or state capitals across the country. It's not about the president or your congressional representatives, either. It's not about higher taxes or nationalized health care. And it sure as heck isn't about tax credits, etc. It's about people's behaviors!

Health care costs are skyrocketing ultimately because of rising "consumer" demand. Rising demand has two dangerous implications: 1) Eventually your health insurance won't be enough and you're going to have to pay more, and 2) there will be more and more people without health insurance. Both of these will only add fuel to the very misguided nationalized health care movement that treats the symptom, not the root cause.

Fortunately, we can avert both if first we just acknowledge the root of the health care problem. And here it is: The rising demand for health care is being driven by a gluttonous, out-of-shape nation (just as high oil prices are driven by greed). It's said that heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. It's not. Cancer isn't, either. The #1 killer in America is obesity. If you're obese, you are at much higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, joint failure, digestive disorders, sleep apnea and a whole host of other problems. If you're obese and a smoker, your risk factors are even greater. If you carry most of your fat in your midsection, you are wreaking havoc on your organs. Beyond killing you, obesity creates a huge demand for health care, and demand leads to higher prices that few of us can afford to pay.

But don't take my word for it. Even our (incompetent) government recognizes the cataclysmic consequences of obesity.

And here's more news. Demand isn't just coming from fat adults. There are more obese kids today than ever before. It's unmistakable. Kids with type-2 diabetes and early signs of heart disease...unbelievable!

If America wants to "get control" of health care, the solution isn't policy-related and it has nothing to do with the use of taxpayer money. The solution is for people to reduce their reliance on health care by dedicating themselves to healthy eating and exercise, which are the best wellness and preventative measures you can take. The model then must change from a system of sick-care to a system of well-care.

As a first step in regaining health and wellness and reducing their risk factors, people can start avoiding refined sugars, red meat, pork products, all fast food, processed foods, fried and fatty foods, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. They can emphasize whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish and chicken, while keeping their feet moving and their TVs and video games turned off!

It's a well-known fact that nations that adopt the Standard American Diet (SAD, an appropriate acronym), which is awful, see huge spikes in the rate of heart disease and cancer. But there's also the Standard American Lifestyle (SAL, as in pig)--6 hours of TV a day, video games, Blackberry obsession, inadequate sleep, no exercise and perpetual stress. If we change our behaviors and adopt a healthier lifestyle that gets us outdoors where we'll enjoy exercise, we'll see less and less of our doctor and rely on fewer and few prescriptions. Then, only then, will health care costs go down and will people discover a better life.

I know. I made the change almost 7 years ago, when I was a size 38 and on the road to cigarette adiction (thanks to political campaign life). That was 51 pounds and about 16,000 miles ago.


My first full week of tapering for the Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run is now behind me. For the week, I ran 54 uneventful miles, including 11 miles on Saturday--with my new Salomon Speedcross 2s, which I love--and 11.5 miles on Sunday with the Cleveland Southeast Running Club. I feel pretty good except for some lingering tightness in my hamstrings.

For the coming week, the plan is to do very little--certainly nothing over 30 or 35 minutes. The plan for Thursday and Friday is zero, when I'll be be getting my drop bags in order. Then on Saturday the big event comes--100 miles through Mohican State Park.

My goals for Mohican are:

1) Finish
2) Set a new PR (current PR of 19:22)
3) Every man for himself (i.e., contend)

I have too much respect for 100s for my #1 goal not to be to finish.


Looking at my training, I think I've done what I needed to do to be ready for Mohican. I ran pretty good mileage and I think the hill repeats will pay off. I may have raced a little too much this spring, with two 50Ks and a marathon in a three-month period. All I can do is my best. There will be plenty of good runners on the course this weekend and hopefully I'll be finishing with a time I can be proud of.

Onward and upward!


  1. Wyatt
    Great blog...Where you in my dining room yesterday? My wife & I were just talking about this. We just recieved a bill from a doctors visit. I've been having problems with my shoulder and stopped by the doc office...I was prescribed a pack of drugs. I said to my wife, "This bill is rediculous!!!" If I we're a fat smoker with Diebetes and Emphysema I wouldn't have recieved a bill. Because I am a healthy person who wants to take care of myself, I get a bill that my insurance wouldn't cover. The drugs didn't help, so now I'm stuck wondering how much our insurance company would cover for a visit to Dr. Shah, without a workman's comp order.

  2. Wyatt, enjoyed your posting this week. Amen!
    Good luck this weekend and hope everything goes well!
    Happy birthday and father's day!
    Scott (new guy)