No amount of pills are going to cure our ailing heath care system

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

 

On Wednesday, June 17 I was invited to attend a Health Care forum hosted by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s office in Toledo.  The audience consisted of retired physicians, employed nurses, who practice home health care and hospice care, mental health professionals and social service professionals. The congresswoman, herself, was not there, but her legislative aide who works on the healthcare issue was there to lead the dialogue.

If the U.S. is going to offer a system where affordable health care is available to everyone, it will have to be a system that is going to incentivize the insured person to do all that is in their power to make the a “health care system for all” affordable.   

For example, one physician said, “Patients are going to want the same type of health care that they are getting now.” He went on to explain when patients walk into a doctor’s office with a problem, the patient is likely to expect a whole battery of tests, because that is what they are use to getting. This may not be what is needed for their condition, but it is what they expect. That is not going lead us to affordable health care for all.

I agreed with the physician’s statement,“Patients will want the same type of health care that they are getting now.”

I gave the example that if a doctor tells a patient with high cholesterol and high blood pressure that he can treat the patient one way of two ways:

Option 1.  He can prescribe a daily walking program and a low fat/high fiber diet, which will not cost the health system any money if the patient complies with the doctor’s order

or

Option 2.  He can prescribe a pill.

Clearly, the majority of patients are going to say “Give me the pill.”

Let me illustrate how costly it can be, if a “health care system for all” does not find a way to motivate patients to do their part to keep health care costs down.

There is a drug called Caduet. It is one pill that that treats two health problems. It lowers blood pressure and it lowers cholesterol. According to Drugstore.com Caduet 2.5 – 20 mg is $165.54  for 30 pills. Over the course of a year that is $1,984.08. (That is based on the assumption that the person only needs to take 1 pill per day.)

How much additional cost will it add to the health system to treat the patient using a walking program and a diet of vegetables, grains and legumes?  

Nothing for the health system. But it would cost the patient a new pair of walking shoes and a lower weekly grocery bill.