One of the reasons that our healthcare system is so expensive is that the bulk of the costs are devoted to treating chronic, but often preventable diseases, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and lung cancer (see, for example: Seeking Solutions to the Chronic Disease Epidemic). A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Deepak Chopra et al. discusses this same idea plus others (see: 'Alternative' Medicine Is Mainstream). I quote excerpts from it below with boldface emphasis mine. Read the whole article by these preventive medicine experts. It could save your life and provide ideas for reforming the system.
This article got me thinking. Why do we spend so many billions of dollars on disease treatment and so little on disease prevention? The answer, I think, is that there are so few advocates for healthy living in our communities and little infrastructure to encourage and support preventive medicine. Moreover, our physicians are reimbursed for treating disease and provided noting for helping their patients change their bad habits. I am purposely avoiding a discussion of the fact that most physicians have little or no training in preventive medicine. Who do we expect will be lobbying our politicians at the state and federal levels for the funding of health programs such as exercise, smoking cessation, and weight reduction. Compare this with the number of lobbyists who will be advocating new hospital construction and greater benefits for organ transplant patients.
For me, the answer is relatively simple, I would like to make the modest proposal that some small percentage of government dollars previously allocated to the treatment of disease be earmarked for disease prevention program. Even if the infrastructure for such programs is not now widely available, the availability of funds will serve as a stimulus for their development in our communities. Local health and fitness centers will be part of this health infrastructure. In addition, we need more nurses and physicians who can function as health coaches and spend adequate time working with patients on an ongoing basis to modify their lifestyles when necessary.