Michael Pollan, the amazing real food advocate, was right on in his recent NYT op-ed piece Big Food vs. Big Insurance.
Pollen writes “One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry,” citing the following astonishing facts:
- The U.S. spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health, as a study released last month says, due to us simply being fatter.
- Three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” (not all of which are linked to diet, but many, if not most, of them are).
- We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet.
Light at the End of the High Fructose Tunnel
The good news, according to Pollen (and this might be helpful to you if you’re overwhelmed and confused about the healthcare debate in general), is that even under the weaker versions of health care reform being offered, health insurers would be:
- required to take everyone at the same rates
- provide a standard level of coverage
- keep people on their rolls regardless of their health
- erase terms like “pre-existing conditions” and “underwriting” from the health insurance rulebook
Finally, the health care industry would find it in their best interest to work towards reducing rates of obesity and diet-related diseases…unlike in the current healthcare system where there’s more money in amputating a diabetic’s limb than there is in pushing preventative living so he or she didn’t get there in the first place!
Recent Laura Klein Green Club expert guest, author and real food advocate Robyn O’Brien, notes in her Huffington Post blog that the U.S. ranks 37th out of 40 countries (on par with Slovenia) in terms of "health care." (If you missed the call with Robyn, you can listen to it – and other amazing expert interviews – at your convenience when you join the Green Club!).
As a country, we should – and could – be doing better than that.