America is desperate for affordable health care. We spend more on health care than any other developed country. But we are not seeing the results. Our health ranks last among industrial nations.
The first of this three-part article series focused on the two reasons why we are spending so much more with so little results. The second article outlined three steps for changing the drug and insurance industry business model to achieve lower prices.
Now, we'll take a look at five American behaviors that must be changed if we are to realize lower healthcare costs.
It is past time for Americans to recognize that our consumption of sugar, fats, salt and food additives is as dangerous to our health as using tobacco. The solution is to adopt public policy that treats unhealthy foods and beverages just like we treat tobacco products. We really won’t like doing this. But we also can’t afford to pay the healthcare costs of being overweight and obese.
First, we must recognize individual drug abuse as a disease, not a criminal act. Such a system would stop throwing drug abusers in jail and making them criminals. It would instead treat their addiction.
Secondly, we must hold drug companies and doctors accountable for medicating pain in a manner that promotes addiction.
Implementing these two solutions will curtail the drug epidemic, reduce law enforcement and incarceration costs, and grow our economy by enabling employment of individuals with a drug addiction disease.
Technology is on the cusp of coming to our rescue. Mass adoption of autonomous vehicles will not only lower driving costs, but its will also reduce vehicle accidents.
The byproduct of gun ownership is gun violence. The two leading causes of gun deaths are suicide and murder. Half of all suicides are executed with guns. America must invest in mental health care to reduce gun violence, drug abuse and homelessness.
Another telling data point is that African American males are the largest demographic group murdered by guns. Linked to this trend is the fact that African American males in Midwest and Mid-Atlantic cities confront 45 percent unemployment rates.
Gun violence can be reduced. But doing so requires public consensus, and policy, to reduce the underlying causes of gun violence.
Poverty is a key reason why we have a high infant mortality rate and unhealthy kids. Over 20 percent of our children live in poverty.
Today, Medicaid provides 16 million children with health care. Another 7 million children are uninsured. Public policy that cuts Medicaid will only generate millions of future unhealthy adults with diminished potential. The solution is to provide expecting mothers and children with health care that will improve their health, diminish their need for health care and enable their fullest potential.
The ultimate solution is for Americans to behave in a healthier manner. Specifically, we must:
Where we go next will determine the future of our health and healthcare costs.
Bill Roth is a cleantech business pioneer having led teams that developed the first hydrogen fueled Prius and a utility scale, non-thermal solar power plant. Using his CEO and senior officer experiences, Roth has coached hundreds of CEOs and business owners on how to develop and implement projects that win customers and cut costs while reducing environmental impacts. As a professional economist, Roth has written numerous books including his best selling The Secret Green Sauce (available on Amazon) that profiles proven sustainable best practices in pricing, marketing and operations. His most recent book, The Boomer Generation Diet (available on Amazon) profiles his humorous personal story on how he used sustainable best practices to lose 40 pounds and still enjoy Happy Hour!