Fixing the healthcare system has less to do with fixing healthcare and more to do with getting healthy
By Grant Gelles
The COVID-19 pandemic has done nothing but expose our greatest vulnerabilities, break us down, and teach us the perils of being unhealthy. 94.9% of all hospitalized COVID patients had at least 1 underlying medical condition, and the average COVID death involved a patient with 2.9 comorbidities.
Knowing that the vast majority of COVID complications occurred in individuals with chronic disease (Obesity, Anxiety, Diabetes, Heart Disease), why was there absolutely no emphasis on improving health as prophylaxis from COVID deaths?
I seemingly recall Dr. Fauci instilling fear, telling us to stay inside, and reminding us to remain isolated; three things that we have proven time and time again to decrease our resiliency, increase our stress, and lead to further health consequences. This is not to mention that lockdowns had no meaningful effect on preventing deaths.
The pandemic interestingly came just months after Fauci’s May 2019 interview in which he scoffed at the use of masks in the case of a theoretical pandemic and suggested that one “avoid all the paranoid aspects, and do something positive. a. a good diet. b. … don’t smoke … don’t drink, at least not very much [and] … get some exercise.” Fauci also commented that “I think that the normal low-tech healthy things are the best things you can do … to stay healthy.”
This phenomenon is representative of a much larger set of problems within our healthcare system. The dominating three reasons for the lack of emphasis on health in healthcare are 1. Profit Motive, 2. Medicalization, and 3. A lack of agency and personal responsibility where applicable.
The ‘normal low tech healthy things’ mentioned by Fauci include diet, exercise, and stress management which all have measurably large effects on our health, but unfortunately do not fit the ‘pill for every ill’ model that dominates our healthcare industry. This industry is reliant on the unhealthy populace to survive, and is therefore deterred from encouraging such-low cost / low-tech interventions.
The potential impact of lifestyle interventions in the prevention of the chronic comorbidities that make us most vulnerable to COVID death and other health issues are well documented. Of the top three comorbidities related to COVID, 80% can be prevented, primarily with simple diet and lifestyle interventions. Unfortunately, diet and lifestyle fall outside the purview of many doctors, most of whom have been indoctrinated into the medicalized society where less than 1% of all training acknowledges lifestyle.
The last key reason for our failing health as a nation comes down to the individual, their agency, and availability of resources. With such an intense focus on the healthcare system, we fail to provide adequate opportunity for those of low socio-economic status to avoid most health-related costs. For those with adequate resources to manage a balanced diet, exercise frequently, and receive adequate support, there are very few excuses aside from a lack of agency and understanding.
We are all sick and tired of hearing about our plagued medical system but can provide no solution. Instead, we should be sick and tired of ourselves for continuing to prop up a medical system that has very little concern for our health relative to its profitability.
If you are as frustrated as I am, listen to Dr. Fauci: do something positive for your health. As for helping the rest of the population, start the game of telephone and begin sharing the importance of our choices in keeping us healthy. Finally, and most importantly, we must educate our elected officials to divert spending from sick care towards health care. Rather than dealing with the consequences of poor access to healthy food and lifestyles, let’s collectively agree to fund access and avoid consequences all together.