Every Friday in June I will be sending out a free signed copy of any one of my books with a personal message to one lucky reader to either keep for themselves or give to someone in need.
If you or someone you know has been hospitalized this year you might have noticed that essential information is often poorly communicated and the cost of care can be shocking—tens of thousands of dollars a night for an ICU stay is not uncommon. In the aftermath, facing complicated bills, lists of new medications, and coordinating visits with multiple doctors who often don’t work together, you might wonder how to cope.
That’s where the authors of Primal Prescription can help.
The combined author expertise, one an ER doc and the other an economist, makes for a very interesting book that provides a pinpoint accurate and uniquely thorough delineation and description of the US healthcare system’s many problems.
That alone would make this book a must read for anyone involved in the system at any level, from clinic to hospital to insurance plan administration. But in revealing the hidden systemic forces that, like a puppeteer pulling the strings on a marionette, largely dictate the way their own personal doctor treats them, the book becomes a great resource for healthcare consumers as well.
The authors kick off chapter one with a compelling argument that the current healthcare crisis originated in a Faustian bargain between a dominant insurance company (Blue Cross) and the US government: in exchange for tax exempt status, the company would charge everyone the same premiums regardless of risk, age or health conditions. That was way back in the 1930s. Agreeing to charge the same regardless of a customers likelihood of liability represents a major break away from the usual business of insurance, where people with higher risk typically must pay more than people with lower risk. If we buy a house next to a river, we pay more for flood insurance. If we drive too fast and get speeding tickets, we pay more for car insurance. The only reason we make exception for lifestyle-related diseases, they say with rather bold clarity, is that we’ve convinced ourselves that when it comes to health, when bad habits have bad consequences, the financial burden should be someone else’s problem.
The irrationality of that attitude is growing more and more clear with every passing year. Healthcare costs have exploded over the past few decades to the point where healthcare is the number one most profitable industy. In other words, no longer a farming or manufacturing economy, we’re now a nation profiting primarily off our own sicknesses.The health insurance crisis stems largely from the cost of paying for chronic, preventable diseases. Diabetes alone accounts for $245 billion in expenses annually. All the legislation passed to remedy the health insurance crisis has only made the system larger and more dangerous.
Once the major health insurance companies gave up the right to charge more for higher risk patients, they took personal responsibility out of business equation. Suddenly, the normal checks and balances that help keep business running smoothly, and particularly complex systems of economic exchange, ceased to function. As a result, tacking on more legislation in attempt to correct fundament imbalances rather than taking the bold step of tearing it down to fix the flawed foundation only makes the broken system more unsound and dysfunctional. This is why, so far, government interventions have done little more than impose expensive technologic requirements, create more paper work (now, computer work) for practitioners and enable the US government and corporations to sue your doctor if they are unable to follow the letter of the convoluted law.
The solution is long overdue: common sense survival skills
The book transitions out of its history telling in the third and final section to become a valuable resource for hospital survivors and those with chronic health problems currently being managed with medication and the standard diet advice. All the advice they give boils down to a simple Primal Prescription: take care of yourself, don’t count on the government. They provide a variety of ways to accomplish this, the most basic is by eating and exercising in accordance with our genetic blueprint. The plan they provide to accomplish this is based largely on ancestral health principles including those of the book’s publisher Mark Sisson, who’s ideas about nutrition I endorse.
Some of the information intended to prepare the reader to do battle in the wild world of the healthcare system, from the hospital to the annual wellness exam, may seem radical, but all of it is supported by evidence from published articles.
For example, in the well care section, a five page subsection on mammograms entitled “Mammography: How to Scare the Hell Out of Yourself” breaks down the evidence that one reason the breast cancer rates keep going up is that we are finding too many cancers. While occasionally mammograms do save lives, for the vast majority of women mammograms paradoxically do more harm than good. How? By making women worry about tiny cancers that their bodies may have eradicated before growing bigger. Less frequent mammography (in some European countries the standard is once every 6 years) reduces radiation damage to the heart and lungs, and may provide the benefit of finding real cancer while still in an early enough stage to save a life.
Overall, the book injects a refreshing perspective into the ongoing discussions around the healthcare crisis that will give the reader a solid understanding of the history and a healthy dose of common sense practical advise.