Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Health Not Health Care

I believe that if the US wants to contain health care costs, we need to focus on health rather than health care. This is a point that Mike "Jared" Huckabee has been making on the campaign trail and I hope the other presidential candidates will steal from him.

I came across 3 articles recently with respect to this.

First, from Wired:

To get an extra 14 years of life, don't smoke, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink alcohol in moderation. That's the finding of a study that tracked about 20,000 people in the United Kingdom.

Kay-Tee Khaw of the University of Cambridge and colleagues calculated that people who adopted these four healthy habits lived an average of 14 years longer than those who didn't.

The study included healthy adults aged 45 to 79. Participants filled in a health questionnaire between 1993 and 1997 and nurses conducted a medical exam at a clinic. Participants scored a point each for not smoking, regular physical activity, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and moderate alcohol intake.

Until 2006, the researchers tracked deaths from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. People who scored four points were four times less likely to die than those who scored zero, the research showed.
Second, from the NY Times:
When retired people move to a warmer state, their life expectancy rises dramatically. In fact, 8 to 15 percent of the increase in American life expectancy over the last 30 years comes from people moving to warmer climates, according to research done by two economics professors, Olivier Deschenes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Enrico Moretti, at the University of California, Berkeley.
Third, from the NY Times:
A year ago, researchers at Johns Hopkins University published the results of a program that instituted in nearly every intensive care unit in Michigan a simple five-step checklist designed to prevent certain hospital infections. It reminds doctors to make sure, for example, that before putting large intravenous lines into patients, they actually wash their hands and don a sterile gown and gloves.

The results were stunning. Within three months, the rate of bloodstream infections from these I.V. lines fell by two-thirds. The average I.C.U. cut its infection rate from 4 percent to zero. Over 18 months, the program saved more than 1,500 lives and nearly $200 million.
Instead of focusing on making the best health care available to everyone, we can raise life expectancy while reducing costs by focusing on basics such as smoking, eating fruits and vegetables, exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, moving to warmer climates and using simple checklists.

Why aren't such things given more emphasis? Well in the case of checklists, over zealous ethic regulations are getting in the way:
Yet this past month, the Office for Human Research Protections shut the program down. The agency issued notice to the researchers and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association that, by introducing a checklist and tracking the results without written, informed consent from each patient and health-care provider, they had violated scientific ethics regulations. Johns Hopkins had to halt not only the program in Michigan but also its plans to extend it to hospitals in New Jersey and Rhode Island.


Audacious Epigone said...

Ah, living longer, another benefit to a warming climate, then, eh?

Fat Knowledge said...


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