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Preventive medicine

Preventive natural medicine can curb spiraling medical costs - here's how

Monday, February 18, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: preventive medicine, medical costs, treatment

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(NaturalNews) The prevailing healthcare model in America today, although slowly evolving, is still focused primarily on treating people after they become ill rather than on preventing them from becoming ill in the first place through nutrition and lifestyle. And a major consequence of this failed approach has been a rapid increase in healthcare costs over the years, so much so that the entire system seems poised to collapse in on itself in the very near future if a new model is not soon adopted.

One such alternative model, and the one that makes the most sense logically speaking, is a preventive healthcare approach that focuses on boosting the body's own natural immune system through diet and lifestyle so that it does not fall ill. This strategy is not only far less expensive than trying to deal with sickness after it has already developed, but it also produces a much higher quality of life for those who adhere to it. But can this type of system actually work in real life?

Assuming that the pharmaceutical, vaccine, and other sick-care industries lose their stronghold on the medical system, a preventive healthcare model can work, and it can save society untold billions of dollars. Various local and state initiatives that promote preventive healthcare models already exist, in fact, and have proven themselves to be the preferred method of providing affordable and equitable healthcare to those in need.

As reported by Professor Jeffrey Levi over at Huffington Post, a report compiled by researchers at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) back in 2008 found that investing just $10 per person in community-based prevention programs that educate in how to eat well, exercise effectively, and stop smoking, for instance, could save the country more than $16 billion annually within just five years. According to the figures, this translates into a return of $5.60 for every $1 spent.

Prevention programs can greatly decrease healthcare costs across the board

Other programs that aim to help prevent conditions like asthma, childhood obesity, and heart disease have proven successful as well, returning far more in healthcare cost savings than the amount spent on teaching prevention. And even though prevention requires far more participation and cooperation from those receiving it than does sick-care treatment -- it is much easier to simply pop a pill than to stop eating junk food, for instance -- this approach really is the only sustainable option moving forward into the future.

"Prevention delivers real value as a cost-effective way to keep Americans healthy and improve their quality of life," explains Levi, who specializes in studying and creating health policy. "Everyone wins when we prevent disease rather than treating people after they get sick. Health care costs go down, our local neighborhoods are healthier and provide more economic opportunity, and people live longer, healthier, happier lives."

Some health insurance companies already reward policyholders who adopt healthier dietary and lifestyle habits with cash rewards or premium reductions, which end up costing far less than conventional treatments when people actually get sick. Educational programs that teach people how to avoid unhealthy foods like genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and processed sugars and flours, and instead teach them how to eat more whole foods free of chemical preservatives and toxic flavor enhancers, is another approach that has proven to be effective.

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