Endless Curiosity

September 10, 2009

Health Care and What We Eat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:22 am

I love coming across ideas I hadn’t thought of before. There’s so much talk about the cost of health care and how we need change: Too many unnecessary tests and procedures. Too many expensive me-too drugs. Too much fear of being sued by patients. Payment for procedures rather than results. New expensive medical technology that must be paid for.

So it was interesting to read Michael Pollan’s article in the New York Times where he says:

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter.

Pretty much everything substantial that happens is driven by the desire for money, and health care is no exception. As Pollan continues:

There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.

His conclusion is that once insurers are forced to cover people regardless of pre-existing conditions, and can’t enforce lifetime limits or dump people who get sick, insurers will have a strong financial interest in how people eat.

[The health care industry] will promptly get involved in the fight over the farm bill — which is to say, the industry will begin buying seats on those agriculture committees and demanding that the next bill be written with the interests of the public health more firmly in mind.

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