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Part 3: BRAIN HEALTH Begins Real Reform
Major changes are needed to fairly and economically reform current approaches to health and illness. Any realistic GOOD HEALTH and "sickness care" solution must qualify itself by placing a premium on brain support.
Caution is essential so that consumers and taxpayers are NOT misled and fooled by proposals for radical change. Otherwise, everyone will be saddled with a costly "sickness care" system that only makes matters worse.
Ideas hugely affect human action when it comes to GOOD HEALTH and "sickness care."
Firstly, it is necessary to "take back" the language and distinguish GOOD HEALTH from "sickness care."
The Germans, for example, are honest when they speak about their "sickness" funds.
But, people with vested interests corrupt language and talk about "health care" in America. The term "sickness care" is more appropriate for such discussions that are really about financing the expenses associated with disease and illness.
Hygiene and public health are separate from "sickness care." "Sickness" is the combined class of conditions that physicians manage and treat. Some physicians have also pursued training and expertise in hygiene and public health, generally as it relates to pervasive "sicknesses" in the population.
Europeans come from a philosophical position of "solidarity" in providing universal "sickness care."
They do not operate from the Rule of Law perspective and common law practices used in America.
In their presentations and informal conversations at a recent symposium at the University of Minnesota, German officials spoke about how they wished Germany was more like America in regard to "sickness care."
The lack of an orientation giving more weight to brain conditions is the fundamental problem in developed and developing countries.
Adopting another country's failed system is NOT the answer for America.
A critical mass needs to shift their mindset from "sickness care" spending to investing in improved brain health.
In conversation with the German Minister of Health, she indicated that Germany has a huge problem with what I refer to as the "front-end" approach to health and sickness.
The "front-end" approach involves capitalizing on free or inexpensive GOOD BRAIN HEALTH strategies.
The Germans are not alone with this sickness orientation.
Generally, people from Europe, Japan, and AMERICA do not consciously acknowledge their corollary responsibility to develop, sustain and restore their GOOD BRAIN HEALTH in exchange for their "sickness care" benefits.
Ultimately, consumers and taxpayers pay for most "sickness care" in America.
State and local governments have about 19 million employees and the federal government has about 8 million employees. Taxation makes sure they receive top-flight "sickness care" benefits won by their unions.
Take a look at what happens in Minnesota.
About 20% of the Minnesota state employees consume 80% of the "sickness care" dollars.
Even more amazing, 17% of Minnesota's state employees spend about $4.50 per person annually. This cost equals about 0.05% of annual "sickness care" costs paid by Minnesota taxpayers for state employees. These extremely healthy employees are what I call "positive health deviants."
Minnesota has an unusually large number of "positive health deviants" working for state government. These employees really understand and live by GOOD BRAIN HEALTH principles!
Astute leaders would make certain that they help their co-workers and fellow Minnesotans cultivate GOOD BRAIN HEALTH habits and lifestyles.
A sleight of hand strategy is being used with "sickness care" financing. Growing numbers of American corporate and public leaders favor a universal single payor "sickness" system.
It transfers a huge share of labor costs to TAXPAYERS.
Keith Ellison, now Minnesota Attorney General, illustrated this line of thought during a Congressional campaign debate. He used the car, an American icon, in his argument for universal "sickness care." About $1,500 from the purchase of a new car covers the auto worker's "sickness care" benefits. Ultimately, the consumer pays for for these expenses when they buy the car; but a universal single payor "sickness care" system would transfer this expense to the TAXPAYER from the manufacturer's labor expenses.
Such legislation would let the auto industry and marketplace OFF this $1,500 "hook" and puts American TAXPAYERS ON it.
People need to understand who and how everyone would benefit from these changes.
Will American consumers see lower prices on their cars and American auto workers see larger take-home pay checks?
Or, will they only face a shock when they pay taxes on April 15?
Will taxpayers see it as fair if 80% of the "sickness care" TAX DOLLARS continue going to 20% of the people?
In business there is practical rule known as the the 80-20 rule: "80% of sales come from 20% of the clients."
That's how "sickness care" has worked.
Unless there are changes in thinking and lifestyle, it will most likely continue to work that way under universal "sickness care."
All taxpayers would pay for "sickness care" that is largely used by only 20% of the people.
Furthermore, no one should believe that the current system and most reform proposals reflect a generous, kind-hearted approach that seeks to remedy the greatest burden of disease and disability, i.e., neuropsychiatric brain conditions.
Few "sickness care" dollars are spent on brain conditions in America, or for that matter, in any country.
How big is this brain problem?
About one in two Minnesotans have brain conditions.
In "progressive" Minnesota only about 2% goes to the greatest burden of disease, even though conditions, such as depression, cause unemployment, underemployment, under-education, other health problems, and even death.
Nationally, about 5-7% of all "sickness care" dollars goes to treat brain conditions in recent years.
Clearly, the time has come to focus on brain hygiene and public health: "two big bangs for the buck" strategies.
Americans have a clear-cut choice:
They can invest in GOOD HEALTH or follow those clamoring for more extensive and expensive "sickness care" programs and benefits.
The latter choice boils down to a colossal cash transfer.
It will enrich "sickness care" vendors at the TAXPAYER'S EXPENSE.
Only an informed, practical, and systematically active public can reduce the growing burden of disease and disability.
Programs like Campaign GOOD HEALTH™ and the FAST System of GOOD HEALTH™ help "take back" the language.
It is necessary to generate a robust conversation about "front-end"
GOOD HEALTH strategies that are focused on sustaining and restoring healthy brains and healthy lives rather than less effective notions that are applied when people become "sick."
Carl R. Hansen, Jr., M.D.