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An Embarrassment: US Health Care Far From the Top in Global Study

A disturbing report from The Washington Post underscores the fact that, despite its wealth, the U.S. lags far behind when it comes to counting preventable deaths. The research, conducted at the University of Washington, looked at 32 cause of deaths in 195 countries, both industrialized and developing. The U.S. scored so poorly that it landed on par with Estonia, a tiny country on the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. has a chronic history of having the most expensive health care with the worst outcomes; only three years ago it came in dead last compared to 11 other industrialized nations, even though U.S. per capita spending was more than double the highest-ranking country, the United Kingdom.

The statistics haven’t changed. Today, Americans spend more than 17 percent of the annual GDP on health care costs, equating to over $9,500 per capita. Yet, over half still suffer from chronic illness, and the U.S. still ranks last in that list of 11.

There’s no question the cost of providing health care in the U.S. is staggering, but the reason for this is that it’s dependent upon a pharmaceutical economy and invasive surgeries without much attention paid to healthy living choices and preventive care. When you have a system like this, that’s rooted in maximizing profits rather than helping people prevent illness, you’re doomed to coming in last for health care.

That’s why I promote integrative medicine (IM), which offers a combination of conventional medicine and complementary or alternative therapies. IM places a greater emphasis on preventing problems rather than treatment once a problem arises, using conventional drug and surgery approaches sparingly or as a last resort.

Remember, it is never too late to take control of your health. Incorporating healthy lifestyle choices will increase the potential you’ll enjoy optimal health and will give you the best chance to live longer without disease.
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