The Coastal Post - October, 1999

How To Save Trillions In Health Care For Americans

By Stephen Simac

Basically we're too fat, we don't exercise, stuff ourselves with crap, and we live in a country that grinds its workers into dogmeat, but who is gonna tell us the truth? Instead, we watch the health of most Americans go down the toilet along with the trillions in health care dollars spent on medical care for ignorant and brainwashed people in a dehumanizing system which cares nothing about our health.

Even if we had universal health coverage it wouldn't improve our health. We glory in our greasy plates, burrow into mountains of sweets, smoke like chimneys, drink like fishes, snuffle up drugs, wallow on couches before the entertainment god when we're not driving drunk or enraged, value money over relationships and generally slouch towards death with a little whining, accepting whatever the doctors tell us as fate. All to stuff ourselves from really feeling.

Doctors have helped run up our health care expenses, from their tax subsidized expensive training, high-priced services, endless tests, their reliance on pharmaceutical symptomatic relief until they bring out the scalpels, and their vain search for costly cures instead of focusing on wellness education, prevention, and social change. Americans want to be magically cured of diseases most worked their way to at the table. Can you really call it a heart attack when it fails after years of abuse? More like self-defense.

Admittedly there are innocent victims, childhood leukemia, people hit by drunk drivers, virgins with AIDS, and horror stories of health care, but most Americans trudging into the medical maw worked their way into poor health through ignorance or consumer propaganda. The giant food and chemical companies have eviscerated the nutritional qualities of our national diet. Their profits increase while health continues to deteriorate and the national medical bill hovers at a trillion dollars a year. Experts project it to double by 2006.

From childhood to senility we are badgered into consuming their worthless products. The only fruit we eat is outta jelly donuts, ketchup is our vegetable, we spend billions on fried foods and sugar water, this cigarette, or that ice cream. We couldn't be more a product of conditioned response than a rat in a maze of heavily advertised, attractively packaged cheeses.

In general, poorer people are sicker and die younger in America than wealthier classes, from causes including accidents and injuries. The poor live in more toxic environments, have much less access to health care, and the financial grind of poverty is relentless in this society. Still, their own beliefs and lifestyles adds to their pestilence, but this is true of all Americans. The national disease is so contagious that our poorest immigrants from third world countries have better health than middle-class American citizens, yet in less than a generation they are as sick as the rest of us.

It could be different. With a few simple changes in society and individual lifestyles, we could save trillions over a few years in medical bills. Simple changes opposed by powerful, profitable industries.

Effective tobacco, alcohol and drug programs, available freely and conveniently, paid for by legalizing drugs, taxing them and controlling them through pharmacies, along with teen prevention campaigns, would save billions in future health care for illnesses and injuries.

A luxury tax on foods with more than 30% of their calories from fats, used to subsidize lower vegetable and fruit prices, combined with advertising to remind us to eat like our mothers told us to, would reduce most of the top killers and debilitators of Americans.

If we stopped pandering to motor vehicle transportation and focused on efficient mass transportation systems, as well as improved the safety and comfort levels of walking and bicycling to work, it would encourage people to get out of their cars and exercise daily. The costs of having to own an automobile to survive are extremely stressful to the financially challenged. Basic transport changes would reduce heart disease, strokes, most cancers, diabetes, automobile accidents, and the illnesses and deaths caused by air and water pollution. If we weren't so dependent on foreign oil, our military expenditures could be reduced from the $250 billion a year we spend on combat readiness for wars for oil.

If we put those savings into sustainable, organic agriculture, renewable resources and energy efficiency, we would not have to live in such a toxic stew. Affordable housing would relieve the financial and emotional stress of keeping a roof over our heads. Not having to work all the time would allow us more time with our friends and lovers, the number and quality of which have been shown to have the greatest effect on preserving physical and mental health from childhood to senility.

In other words, America could save trillions in health care over the next decade, but it would require fundamental, unpopular, changes in lifestyle and social justice, challenge huge, enormously wealthy industries and their captains of profit, and require people to face their feelings instead of stuffing them down. Or we'll just continue to obsess over other people's sex life.

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