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Be Your Own Medicine

I recently saw a slogan that encapsulated what’s wrong with the U.S. healthcare system: Be Your Own Medicine. To Be Your Own Medicine is the essence of prevention, and a way of taking full ownership of one’s health, body, mind, diet, fitness and daily habits.

Alas, being your own medicine strips the $3.5 trillion healthcare system of profit, power and control, so the last thing the healthcare cartels want is for us to be our own medicine, as that would reduce our reliance on highly profitable pharmaceuticals, tests, procedures and high-cost facilities.

Note the slogan isn’t “take your own medicine” or “make your own medicine”–it’s be your own medicine, which suggests that health is a way of being, not just a way of consuming, though what we consume is integral to being your own medicine.

Our materialist-consumerist culture focuses almost exclusively on data, so “health” is quickly reduced to FitBit readings, test results and an obsessive monitoring of calories and diets, to the general exclusion of the mind-body as an integral system.

The importance of what we put in our mouths is expressed by the old Chinese saying: disease comes in through the mouth, i.e. what we consume. But what we consume is not limited to food (or what is sold as “food”): it also includes what our minds consume in the way of “news”, entertainment, knowledge, etc., and what inputs we experience as stress.

There is also what we might call a spiritual component that includes beliefs but also purpose, meaning and positive social roles. People who have lost (or been stripped of) positive social roles, goals and purpose are prone to a Devil’s brew of psychological and physical ailments that cannot be understood or treated as separate from being.

Yet this is precisely what the U.S. healthcare system does: separate conditions into specialties that can each be treated by medications or procedures. What cannot be “fixed” by medications or procedures–for example, a loss of purpose and positive social roles–are ignored: these realities simply do not exist in the U.S. healthcare system.

Any physician or nurse who attempts to understand and co-treat (with the patient themselves) a patient’s entire state of being will encounter multiple layers of institutional resistance or even active hostility.

There’s no time or money to address the state of patients’ being; treatment is defined by tests, data and diagnoses that then trigger “standards of care” that rely heavily on medications, for a number of systemic reasons: drugs satisfy the patients’ demands for the system to “do something” that “fixes” their condition instantly; it enables overworked physicians and providers a ready treatment that can be defended in the courts as current standard-of-care, and it enables every cartel in a system of cartels to reap huge revenues and profits.

What would a healthcare system based on prevention and be your own medicine look like? Such a system would still be called upon to treat diseases such as brain tumors, genetic conditions, traumatic injuries, etc., but the front line of the system would be designed to help individuals be their own medicine, not just in the context of provider-patient but within the day-to-day contexts of households, communities and enterprises.

The idea that actions have consequences is not alien to us, yet our healthcare system is based on giving lip-service to the causal consequences of what we put in our mouths, what we do with our bodies and minds, and what we consume in the material, spiritual and psychological worlds.

Treatment of atomized individuals in a setting of atomized symptoms and treatments is by any measure the opposite of a system that encourages and enables everyone to be their own medicine.

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The Coming Great Recession, Brought to You by the Healthcare Cartel

Why the coming Great Recession is brought to you by the Healthcare Cartel is painfully simple: in an era of stagnant household incomes, every additional dollar devoted to rising healthcare insurance, outrageously unaffordable medications and soaring co-pays is one less dollar that’s available to be saved, invested or spent on something other than healthcare.

Recent headlines tell the story: off-patent medications suddenly leap in price, healthcare premiums jump 25+% in a single year, co-pays increase and the deductibles on many insurance plans are so high that the coverage is more phantom than real: if you have to spend $5,000 before your insurance plan pays $1, what value is the coverage?

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A Fatal Accident Waiting to Happen: U.S. Healthcare

Many of the systems we take for granted are historical accidents. Either based on legacy systems hundreds of years old (higher education) or assembled in a short-term, ad hoc fashion (post-1940 national defense/ national security), these systems have expanded into vast patronage systems that are completely out of touch with 21st century needs, costs or realities.

The U.S. healthcare system was not planned; it is largely accidental.

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The New Shackle of Serfdom: Clinging to Healthcare Insurance

One of the more remarkable characteristics of American life is our passive acceptance of systems that are so obviously completely insane. Yes, I refer to our healthcare system, a.k.a. sickcare because in America sickness is profitable and health is not, and healthcare profiteering that would be the envy of pirates and warlords everywhere is the norm.

What warlord wouldn’t jump on the opportunity to jack up the cost of a medication from $13.50 a tablet to $750 overnight, or as the article highlights, jack up the cost of an off-patent med from $1 a pill to $750 a pill in a few years?

This piratical pillaging is not an outlier–it’s the norm in America’s parasitic pharmaceutical industry:

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Junk Fees and Debt: The Funding Template for American Cities

As many of us have observed over the past few years, local governments in America are caught in the pincers of rapidly rising pension and healthcare costs and stagnant tax revenues. The only “fixes” that don’t alienate vested interests or tax-burdened voters are dramatic increases in junk fees, i.e. “fees for use,” and borrowing money by selling bonds.

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Being Healthy Is Unprofitable

That good health is insanely unprofitable was highlighted by a staggering statistic in the recent research paper The Concentration of Health Care Spending:

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How Healthcare Is Dooming the U.S. Economy

Three charts crystallize the healthcare dynamics that are dooming the U.S. economy. The first depicts the runaway growth of healthcare costs–a rapid expansion that is a permanent feature of U.S. healthcare, regardless of which party is in office or what reforms are instituted.

This expansion of costs has many drivers, most of which result from the system’s perverse incentives for fraud, overbilling, marginal treatments and defensive medicine.Technological and medical advances offer more options for treatment, and can push costs up–but advances can just as readily push costs down, too.

The primary drivers of rapidly increasing costs are:

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Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Either join the disruptors or prepare to be disrupted.

Disruptive technology is a tiresome cliche, as every Twitter/ AirBnB/ Uber/ Skype/etc. wannabe start-up declares itself disruptive. That the vast majority of self-congratulatory start-ups are over-hyped and derivative should not distract us from the larger reality that some technologies do in fact disrupt how things are done.

Fossil-fueled mechanization, for example, turned an overwhelmingly rural farming society into a highly urbanized services-dominated economy.

In the more recent past, CraigsList single-handedly turned the newspaper industry from an immensely profitable license to print money (via costly classified ads) to a struggling sector with an unclear future.

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Do We Want Solutions, Or Just What’s Easy?

We are so brainwashed by centralized models of state authority that few can even imagine a system where the solution is not one centralized monstrosity ruled by a political/financial Aristocracy but a competing profusion of opt-in, transparent solutions.

Many readers ask me for solutions to the current arrangement’s many ills. Seeking solutions is a healthy and positive direction, for highlighting what’s broken is not only much easier than proposing solutions, it’s a dead-end. Pointing out what’s broken is only the first step in crafting solutions.

But I’ve noticed that what most people want is not a real solution–they simply want what’s easy, which means leaving the Status Quo in place but magically making it cheaper and more convenient for them. If the solution requires inconvenience, getting less, accepting more responsibility and making major trade-offs–then it can’t be a solution because politicos have overpromised for so many decades that people expect everything to get cheaper (for them, not the system) and easier (for them, not the system).

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Why America’s Healthcare (Sickcare) System Is Broken and Unfixable

Here’s a two-word summary of why the American healthcare system is fundamentally broken and cannot be fixed with policy tweaks: perverse incentives.

If you type sickcare in the custom search box on this site, you get 10+ pages of articles. I have covered healthcare/sickcare in depth for many years. I have many correspondents within the sector (doctors and nurses), and have paid the unsubsidized costs of insurance as an employer or as a self-employed worker for 30+ years.

Here are two charts and three stories of many I’ve published over the years:

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What’s Lurking Beneath the Glossy Veneer of the Jobs Report?

The jobs report has little value if we don’t peer beneath the glossy veneer.

On the surface, last week’s jobs report was glossy good news: the U.S. economy added 288,000 non-farm jobs. Beneath the glossy veneer, however, the news wasn’t quite as good as advertised: full-time jobs declined by 523,000 and part-time jobs surged 840,000.

Courtesy of Zero Hedge, here’s a chart depicting the entire job market:

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How to Make a Million: Extortion Creates its own Antidote

The problem is its own solution. Whether we try to stop the Status Quo, or let it stop, it WILL stop.

Longtime correspondent Eric A. has a new essay describing a key dynamic of the years ahead: Extortion and skimming create their own antidotes. As the costs of skimming, extortion and corruption reach new heights, the savings to be gained by bypassing the Status Quo systems also increase.

Eric’s point is that the incentives to escape the debt-serf plantation are rising in parallel with the skimming of the state-cartel Elites.

Here’s is Eric’s provocatively insightful essay:


Concerning the Middleman-Skimming Economy, I’m here to tell you, it’s not all bad! The oppressive system you describe of graft, fraud, theft, and extortion creates its own antidote.
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