I tripped across this Forbes article Who Is Popping All Those Pills? while pondering a statement made at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences' BESTFest by Dr. David Kroll, the moderator of the ethics panel. He mentioned that a certain percentage of people in his age group are on one or more drugs. Given that I am in his age group, I had to seek out some information.
I learned from the Forbes article that 39% of people in my age group (45 - 54) are on one or more prescription drugs. Nine percent are on four or more drugs. This isn't a vetted, scientific survey, but still the results are alarming. The article goes on to say that:
Adverse drug reactions among multiple drugs and even Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs are a serious problem. It has been estimated that perhaps approximately 16% of hospital admissions were related to adverse reactions to medicines and approximately 100,000 deaths occur yearly due to adverse drug reactions – making it the 4th leading cause of death and ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS and automobile deaths, according to Nurse.com [sic].
For more information on prescription drug use trends, visit this CDC publication: Prescription Drug Use Continues to Increase and this CDC site: Therapeutic Drug Use. I also like this NPR article, which gets quickly to the point: A Portrait Of Health: Prescription Drugs In America.
Fortunately, Ryan and I are part of the 60% who do not take prescription drugs. That got me thinking, why are we part of this costly healthcare system, forking out a lot of money each month for health care that we don't use. It is worth it to pay more than $500 a month so that we can have a $25 co-pay for each of our annual exams? Is it worth spending more than $6,000 a year so that we can save $525 on physicals? Now that we have Ryan's food reactions identified, allowing his inflammation to greatly reduce and his cholesterol numbers to normalize (yes, I know that cholesterol markers are highly contested, but watching Ryan’s plummet let us know we are on the right track), what do we have left to ponder in the mundane health maintenance world? I do want to know my Omega 6:3 ratio, but that isn't covered by insurance anyway (and neither were most of Ryan's cholesterol blood tests because we wanted more info than the standard diagnostic allowed so that we could better insure he was making good food choices and maintaining healthy inflammatory markers - shame on us!).
Granted, emergencies come up and I have been the beneficiary of great ER docs. I won't quibble about that and would want some emergency insurance, but will that meet the Obamacare standard? I will be exploring that in the next few weeks. Our other plus is that we know great MDs who will continue to guide us because they are generous and we are, well… us, regardless of our insurance status, trying hard to do the right thing. It is not often that critical thinking, intellectually sharp doctors get to guide people like us and we are always grateful to them.
Here is another article which makes me want to hop out of the system: Welcome to the Brave New World of Corporatized Medicine: Just Hope You Don't Get Sick!. Sure is tempting to slash our insurance costs by half. And what about the big, scary C. What if? So many people get it. I know I am not going to get chemo'd and radiated to death, so I won't be going down that insurance road.
It is tough to break out of the pack, and I am not ready to do it just yet, but with a little more research we just might.
And what about you? If you are on medication or about to be put on medication, what one small thing can you do this week to improve your chances of avoiding it? Maybe stop drinking soda, whether it is diet or regular? How about taking grain out of your diet? How about processed food? Here is a how to eat well to be well website that a great MD I know recommends to his patients who will listen: The Archevore.
If big changes seem too big, remember it is a journey and one small step after another can get you where you want to be too. It takes a long time to become sick and it takes awhile to undo it and become well. Your body is just waiting for the chance to excel. Check out this blog post for some great resources to keep things in perspective: Be Kind to Yourself About Food and, Well, Everything. If you don’t go to this blog post, be sure to read the book The Slight Edge .