Today’s Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare — and the nation’s entire debate surrounding health care and health insurance — is a colossal diversion.
The real problem with ObamaCare is not that it’s unconstitutional and that it erodes our liberties (which it is and it does).
The problem is that the entire debate ignores much deeper issues, all arising from the law of unintended consequences.
If we truly wish to transform health care in America and ensure the best outcomes for all our citizens, we must deal with root causes.
America’s “health” care system is in ruins, corroded at the foundations, corrupt to the core.
In How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America, Dr. Otis Brawley writes,
“When you look at outcomes, our health-care system — technology notwithstanding — is closer to Communist states, both former and current, than to other technologically-advanced nations.”
Research in his book reveals that our life expectancy is 78.37 years, which makes us #50 among nations. Forty-four countries have better infant mortality rates than the U.S., including Cuba and Slovenia.
Our dismal results are certainly not due to a lack of spending. Brawley explains,
“Per capita, our health-care spending is the highest in the world. Here we are, indeed, No. 1. The No. 2 slot belongs to Switzerland, but our spending exceeds theirs by 50 percent. Americans spend two and a half times more on health care than on food.”
So why is our system failing so miserably? Two reasons:
- A grossly flawed perspective on “health” care due to the deeply-entrenched and monopolistic medical establishment.
- Misguided government intervention in the food, nutrition, and pharmaceutical industries.
In his excellent book, The Wellness Revolution, economist Paul Zane Pilzer explains,
“Approximately one-seventh of the U.S. economy, about $1.5 trillion, is devoted to what is erroneously called the “healthcare” business.
“‘Healthcare’ is a misnomer, as this one-seventh of the economy is really devoted to the ‘sickness’ business — defined in the dictionary as ‘ill health, illness, a disordered, weakened, or unsound condition, or a specific disease.’
Consider, writes Pilzer, that
“Most of the one-seventh of the U.S. adult population that work in the healthcare industry today focus on treating the symptoms of disease rather than on preventing disease. This is because it is more profitable for medical companies to research and develop products that create customers for life.”
I object to ObamaCare less on constitutional grounds and more because of the flaws of the medical establishment, which I’m loathe to support.
What does it even mean to get access to “health care” in America?
It means you can live an unhealthy lifestyle, ruin your body, and then go see doctors to “fix” you. But they won’t fix you at all.
All they’ll do is perform procedures and prescribe medications that address your symptoms, but don’t even address root causes, let alone solve them.
(And that’s not to mention the side effects caused by prescription drugs.)
It’s a dreamy, insanely-profitable system for pharmaceutical companies and those working in the medical industry, but an abominable system for those paying for it.
So today’s ruling disgusts me, less because it flies in the face of the Constitution, but more because it ensures the perpetuation of sick care.
At a policy level, ObamaCare does exactly what the medical industry does with patients — rather than focusing on root causes, it simply tries to treat symptoms. It’s not “health care” at all — it’s simply a monumental expansion of sick care.
Any why are Americans so sick in the first place?
Certainly, poor lifestyle choices are a significant contributor. But so is government intervention.
Agricultural subsidies are one leading problem in this regard, as I explain here.
Simply put, subsidies ultimately support processed foods, which make us fat and sick. Then the government wants to tax us to take care of these problems.
The government’s food supply, nutrition, and health policies, as reinforced by the USDA and the Food Pyramid program, promote false messages, which have created an unhealthy American diet.
Michael Pollan’s must-read book, In Defense of Food, excoriates the nutrition industry and reveals the link between nutrition science and government policy.
“…no one in charge — not the government, not in the public health community — has dared to come out and announce: ‘Um, you know everything we’ve been telling you for the last thirty years about the links between dietary fats and heart disease? And fat and cancer? And fat and fat? Well, this is just in: It now appears that none of it was true. We sincerely regret the error.’”
It’s because of the nutrition industry, as supported by government policy, that processed food manufacturers can slap labels like “low-fat” on potato chips and “Now with Vitamins C & D!” on sugary cereals — effectively hoodwinking consumers.
In The Wellness Revolution, Pilzer details the story of J.I. Rodale, the founder of Prevention Magazine, and his battle with the Federal Trade Commission.
“Rodale had concluded that eating large quantities of red meat and dairy products dramatically increased the risk of heart disease and that physical activity actually decreased the risk of having a heart attack. This was at a time when the U.S. government was spending millions encouraging Americans to eat more red meat and dairy products at every meal, three meals a day. Doctors were telling patients with heart disease to reduce or eliminate physical activity entirely.”
Rodale wrote about his new findings in two books. After he advertised his books, the FTC ordered Rodale to stop advertising and selling them, claiming that the medical advice given in them was unsubstantiated.
The FTC then scheduled hearings, ordering Rodale to provide proof of his advice. Rodale refused to attend, referencing his First Amendment rights.
Rodale refused to back down, and his legal battles continued for two decades.
Later, of course, “experts” refuted their original testimony, claiming they “didn’t know back then,” and admitted that many of Rodale’s original claims had since become established medical facts.
The point is this: Government intervention in agriculture, food, nutrition, and health lead to drastically negative unintended consequences. Specifically, it has led to widespread obesity and chronic illness in the American populace.
And, of course, with ObamaCare, the government is now forcing us to pay for their mistakes.
So here’s the bottom line: Yes, ObamaCare is unconstitutional, and yes, it erodes our freedoms.
But the real problem is that it totally diverts us from having the right debate about deeper issues.
Health care is defunct in America because it’s not health care at all — it’s sick care, as perpetuated by the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry.
And Americans are plagued by obesity and chronic diseases largely because of flawed governmental policy in food and nutrition.
The real debate should be about far more than uninsureds, coverage for existing medical conditions, and all the other surface-level, symptomatic issues ObamaCare focuses on.
A legitimate debate about true health care reform should involve the following:
- The flawed premises and approach of the medical establishment (i.e. “sick care”).
- The importance of prevention and true lifestyle-based wellness, rather than treating symptoms.
- Why pharmaceutical companies and others are incentivized to perpetuate sick care (symptom treatment).
- The impact of agricultural subsidies.
- Government policy as regards food, nutrition, and health.
Until then, we’ll never solve the root problems in health care.
Stephen Palmer is a book writer for mission-driven leaders, a small business lead generation website design architect and persuasive website copywriter, a co-founder of The Center for Social Leadership, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.
He co-authored the New York Times bestseller Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity, as well as Hub Mentality: Shifting from Business Transactions to Community Interaction.
Stephen resides in Round Rock, Texas with his gorgeous wife Karina, awesome son Alex, and princess daughters Libby, Avery, and Laela.
Subscribe to Stephen’s blog and contact him at stephen [at] leadershipwriter [dot] com.