Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eat your veggies reform?

Only 10 percent of early deaths are the result of substandard care. The biggest contributor? Behavior. Things like overeating and smoking kill 40 percent of those who die early. This all according to The New York Times Magazine, in turn citing J. Michael McGinnis from the Institute of Health.
So, one wonders, do we need health reform for physicians and payers? Or do we need better, well, health?
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What if instead of creating a bigger national payer, we invested in making fruits and vegetables affordable? What about government grocery stores in inner cities stocked with more than Coke and jerky?
Of course, stopping early deaths is not really the focus of health reform. That is focused on getting better care, less expensively, to those who are still alive. If patients die early, so much the cheaper.
Still, it's pretty clear that physicians, no matter how they are paid or how well they adhere to guidelines can only do so much for a diabetic patient who won't control their diet or monitor their glucose.
I have been hearing quite a bit from physicians frustrated by the lack of attention being paid to the patients' role in all this.
That, to be sure, is even a harder problem to solve than getting more coverage for the uninsured.

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