As the debate over health care in the U.S. continues to rage, one statistic still blows my mind. A PriceWaterhouseCoopers study from 2008 showed that half of the $2.2 trillion (now $2.64 trillion) spent on health care in the U.S. are wasted dollars! Waste how??
In addition to insurance and hospital administrative bureaucracy, the biggest culprit is unnecessary testing done by doctors for patients in order to reduce malpractice lawsuit risk. Surprise, surprise. The over-aggressive testing, of course, leads to higher claims amounts, which leads to higher health insurance premiums, which then leads to more uninsureds who, when they need care, burden hospitals with their uninsured (and unpaid) costs, which leads to higher hospital pricing, which leads to higher premiums, which….enough!
That makes me think if newborns and infants could start out their lives with finely tuned, efficiently performing immune systems, what kind of impact could that have on health care costs? How many redundant tests could be avoided if kids didn’t show up in doctor’s offices 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 times a years for ear infections or URTI episodes? How many antibiotic prescriptions, both legitimate and placebo, could be eliminated? How many family members who easily get infected by their kids or their kids’ playmates could avoid doctors’ visits and their own dubious prescriptions if they and the kids had better functioning immune systems?
How many allergy or asthma episodes could be scaled back significantly if young children had healthy, balanced immune response that didn’t over-react, as is the case with allergic reactions? And if moms’ diets and lifestyles were immune-friendly to their fetus during pregnancy, how many babies would have a head start on good health? Oh, the possibilities. I’ll bet we could save another 50%.