Vail Daily letter: Focus on preventative care | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Focus on preventative care

Today, 85 percent of the residents of the United States do not get the bare amount of the minimum daily exercise required to stay healthy, and 74 percent of the population is considered to be overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Unhealthy lifestyles lead to chronic illnesses, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which cause about 70 percent of deaths in the United States, and they are the most expensive to treat. Additionally, in a futile effort to stave off the inevitable, the last year of an American’s life is the most expensive to treat and provides little value to the patient or the system at large. Source: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The corresponding veritable explosion in related, and very expensive, healthcare costs can be seen to be rapidly bankrupting our entire healthcare system; and unless and until everyone is made to take a greater responsibility for their own health and well-being, the system will very soon collapse of its own weight.

Health insurance should be just that, a method to help cover the costs associated with an accident of some sort, or having contracted some disease. However the healthcare system that has evolved in this country to date can be compared to an uninsured person who drives drunk, has a wreck and is badly injured, fully expecting the system to cover the cost of his self-inflicted injuries. Madness!

It is time to turn the tide before too late and instead focus on preventative healthcare delivery requiring everyone to have an annual physical exam including blood work. People who are overweight and who lead sedentary life styles must be required to pay much higher insurance co-payments, and if by their next physical exam they have taken no steps at all to improve their physical condition, all insurance will be denied.

Regarding end of life, it is simply a fact of life, so perhaps thought should be given to terminating all health insurance coverage when men and women reach what is considered to be an average lifespan for each gender. All heroic efforts to prolong life after this point, if desired, should come out of the individual’s pocket, not on the backs of everyone else.

Having been in the wellness business for 50 years (www.edgevt.com), I have learned what works and what does not work; and it most certainly is unfair for about a quarter of the population who eat right and get plenty of exercise in order to remain healthy to have to subsidize the majority of the population’s unhealthy lifestyle.

Peter Bergh

Edwards