Americans Spend $30-B Annually on Alternative Medicine, Why?
Consumers in the US spend about $30-B annually on alternative medicine, according to a newly published federal report from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), in which 44,743 individuals in the US aged 4 and above participated.
The Big Q: Why do people in America spend that much money on what one prominent drug company referred to as “eclectic” and “unconventional” health approaches instead of mainstream medicine?
The Big A: The study’s co-author Richard Nahin, PhD, from the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) said the amount of money spent in the US by people who disregard their lack of healthcare insurance coverage in pursuit of alternative health modalities shows they have more trust in them than conventional medicine.
A Key reason alternative healthcare is expanding is because of the rising costs associated with conventional medicine, but chronic pain is often the motivation.
In Y 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an enlightening article revealing that, following heart disease and cancer, the American healthcare system is the 3rd highest cause of preventable death in the US.
According to The Commonwealth Fund: “Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.
While there is room for improvement in every country, the US stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance, the US spent $8,508 per person on health care in Y 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked 1st overall.”
The Y 2000 JAMA article, authored by the late Dr. Barbara Starfield, a co-founder of a scientific organization devoted to addressing inequity in healthcare, indicated that “fatal events” from iatrogenic causes i.e., due to a physician’s or hospital’s activity, manner or therapy are responsible for the deaths of 210,000 Americans annually.
Including deaths related to diagnostic errors, errors of omission and failure to follow guidelines, the number skyrocketed to 440,000 preventable hospital deaths each year.
Dr. Starfield’s article asserts: “The medical system has played a large role in undermining the health of Americans. According to several research studies in the last decade, a total of 225,000 Americans per year have died as a result of their medical treatments:
- 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgery
- 7,000 deaths per year due to medication errors in hospitals
- 20,000 deaths per year due to other errors in hospitals
- 80,000 deaths per year due to infections in hospitals
- 106,000 deaths per year due to negative effects of drugs”
These numbers at that time made iatrogenic (of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment) deaths 3rd in line behind heart disease and cancer.
However in Y 2015, CNN reported the leading cause of unintentional death the prior year was from drug overdoses, a 14% increase since Y 2013. Overall, since Y 2000, opioid drug overdoses have 2X’d twice.
CNN reported: “The biggest increase in deaths was from synthetic opioids, which went up 80 percent. According to the CDC, the increase in synthetic opioid deaths coincided with increased reports by law enforcement of illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine are derived from the same poppy plants as heroin. Most heroin users initially start by using prescription painkillers.”
As often happens in government-sanctioned entities, when the data becomes too bogged down with uncomfortable or potentially damaging information, the easiest thing to do is hide the statistics.
Supporting this premise, USA TODAY reported in Y 2014: “The federal government this month quietly stopped publicly reporting when hospitals leave foreign objects in patients’ bodies or make a host of other life-threatening mistakes.
The change, which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied last year that it was making, means people are out of luck if they want to search which hospitals cause high rates of problems such as air embolisms — air bubbles that can kill patients when they enter veins and hearts — or giving people the wrong blood type.
… Foreign objects may be retained after surgery twice as often as the government estimates, or up to 6,000 times a year. Sponges, which can embed in intestines, account for more than two-thirds of all incidents.
For patients who survive, the complications can last a lifetime, leading some to lose parts of their intestines.
Whereas thousands of hospitals once made the number of “hospital-acquired conditions,” or HACs, such as MRSA or foreign objects left behind after surgery, available to the public on the Hospital Compare website, that changed with the new government directives, 8 HACs were removed from the list completely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not hobble itself by publishing medical error information or making any provision for reporting iatrogenic causes for its mortality statistics. Those are circumvented completely, so it lists “respiratory disease” as the 3rd most prevalent cause of death.
In this country death certificates have No box at the bottom for coroners to designate “medical error” as a cause of death.
Instead, the “Cause of Death” simply defaults to the patient’s original complaint. Even if a doctor records “medical errors” on a Death Certificate, it is not included in the CDC’s mortality statistics.
So, if doctors and hospital administrators are unable to see the real data regarding iatrogenic causes of death, as in so many areas, if you cannot see the problem, you cannot fix it.
The information that reveals that the US health care system is deeply flawed and even dangerous is that a growing number of healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, are seeking alternative health care options for themselves and their families, as opposed to conventional medicine.
Also, conventional doctors are also referring more of their patients experiencing chronic pain and debilitating diseases to holistic doctors and chiropractic care, something once unheard of.
Some healthcare professionals, who went into the study of medicine to help people noticed that the treatment for many diseases is more treatment.
Rather than seeking a cure, illness is too often simply treated, which has been dubbed management.
Natural cancer treatments that work are suppressed by the conventional medical machine, as may be preventive measures and simpler, less expensive treatment alternatives.
Sadly, many healthcare providers bemoan the fact that while Rx drugs pose a serious problem, they are the Only solution.
The statistics regarding people who die from medical procedures or Rx drugs annually do not count deaths at home or in nursing homes.
It is a wonder statistics for our society’s seniors are not worse.
Read this statement from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) website: “While medications are probably the single most important factor in improving the quality of life for older Americans, the nation’s seniors are especially at risk for medication-related problems due to physiological changes of aging, higher incidence of multiple chronic diseases and conditions and greater consumption of prescription and over-the-counter medications.”
The same ASCP site also reveals some rather disturbing statistics in regard to seniors, which should give us all pause, as follows:
- Seniors 65 to 69 years old take around 14 prescriptions per year; 80 – 84-year-olds take about 18 prescriptions per year
- Among seniors, medication-related problems cost $177.4-B a year
- Adverse drug reactions are among the Top 5 greatest threats to the health of seniors
- 15 to 25% of the drugs taken by seniors are unnecessary or inappropriate
History tells us it can take decades before a medical truth becomes accepted as fact, but now you know, so do not let yourself become a statistic. Arm yourself with the information you need to live a long, healthy life for as long as possible, so you are more likely to end up on a cruise ship than stacked up to die in a nursing home.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, whether you are in a state of wellness or suffering from an illness or disease, is to take control of your health.
Many people assume medical doctors were the only ones who know how to treat illness.
If the doctor handed them a prescription, they would fill it and begin taking it, even if they were not sure what it was. If the doctor said they must have surgery or cut out salt, few people argued, the assumed that the doctor is the expert.
There is a lot of information out there for every aspect of our health, such as the importance of optimal sleep, exercise, vital news about how to eat real, nutritious food and what to avoid, and alternative healthcare methods.
Learn for yourself about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), cancer, supplementation, aging, technology, even healthy pets.
I write about this stuff daily in LTN’s Lifestyle/Health section, to keep you informed and help you get into the best shape ever, whatever your age.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively