Fast Food is Costing Us in the Long Run

Saw this infographic on Kiplinger. It really makes you think about whether or not all the junk we are eating is really worth it. We may save more now, but how much will we pay down the road? Health insurance isn’t getting any cheaper, and other medical costs will only go up. And, as our health as a society deteriorates, we’ll all be paying more.

And don’t fool yourself about how universal coverage will result in you suddenly paying for so and so’s health condition. You’re already paying for others’ ill health. Insurance companies practice their own form of socialized medicine by putting everyone into groups. When someone in your group has problems, everyone in that group sees increases in their health insurance.

Plus, when people wait and wait and wait until they have to go to the emergency room to be treated for something because they don’t have the insurance that helps pay for the doctor visit, costs go up for everyone. So, no matter what system we have, you’re always going to pay for the health choices made by others.

What we really need is a system and a society that values prevention — one in which all of the incentives aren’t on the side of more drugs, and taking care of us when we’re sick. Until we’re ready to change our habits, and until the health care industry actually cares about having a healthy population, things will remain expensive.

2 thoughts on “Fast Food is Costing Us in the Long Run”

  1. One of the problems of a health care system focused on prevention is that our doctors are not trained in prevention. Their whole system is based on pathology and diagnosis. They have no idea what to do with a relatively healthy person who needs to make a few changes to stay that way. Because of this, our health insurance companies also don’t have any idea what they are doing in terms of prevention.

    (Now for the anecdotes)

    Take, for example, the actual real statistics on childbirth practices in the US. For most women, a low-intervention birth attended by a well-trained midwife is not only more satisfying (who cares, right?) but it’s safer for both mother and baby. Less morbidity and less mortality…for *both* of them. (Check out for studies to back this up)

    and yet, very few insurance companies will cover the *less-expensive* option of a midwife.

    There is also the huge public health problem of obesity and all of its complications. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a protocol for healthy babies that, if followed, obesity would fall in our country at a significant rate. (…pdf)

    And yet, Our country still violates the WHO code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes all the time. Our pediatricians meet in an office built and owned by formula companies(the AAP as a group). Doesn’t this reflect a basic non-understanding of prevention at its most basic?

    Until some of these things change and I can see that doctors themselves are learning about how a body at “optimal” functions, I can’t imagine we will ever embrace prevention as a society.

  2. I agree that education is vital. Unfortunately, as you kind of point out, it’s really not in the interest of the “powers that be”. If had better information, and took control of our health in a more meaningful way, there would be a lot of unhappy executives. Bottom line: Health insurance companies aren’t set up to make prevention a goal. And the whole system is set up to provide incentives for certain treatments (from pharma industry kickbacks to doctors who prescribe to kickbacks for denying sometimes-necessary tests). In the end, the profitability of the entire system as we know it is designed for less than desirable health outcomes. And that’s the way the bigwigs like it. It’s better for them and the shareholders in terms of monetary gain.

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