Reporting from Disney World, where I’m speaking at a conference:
Associated Press reporter Linda Johnson reported Wednesday in the Washington Post that 51 percent of all insured Americans are on at least one prescription drug for a chronic medical condition. The breakdown includes: two-thirds of women 20 and over, one quarter of children and teens, 52 percent of men and three-quarters of people age 65 and over.
In the final group, 28 percent of women and 22 percent of men are on 5 or more prescription drugs!
In spite of spending more money per capita than any other nation, the US continues to lag many other countries in life expectancy and other important health indicators.
Experts interviewed attributed this trend to poorer public health and more aggressive early treatment of conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol. Average body weight in US adults and children is higher than ever.
– How many of these early treatments truly improve quality and quantity of life, and how many are fueled by relentless advertising by the pharmaceutical companies, and ready reimbursement through Medicare D and other plans? People in other industrialized nations don’t treat so aggressively, yet they live longer. We need more evidence-based studies that are not sponsored by the people selling the drugs!
– How much of the pile of health care dollars do we spend for prevention, education and public health improvements? Have we decided that it’s just easier to prescribe (or take) one more pill?
– Everyone runs away from the idea of universal coverage because of the fear that it will place too much of a financial burden on companies and taxpayers. Has anyone considered what it costs us all to have such poor public health and 50 million uninsured people?
— Al Power