The Only Solution to America’s Health Care Debacle

You don’t have to look very far to see the perfect storm developing in our nation’s health care system. With the combination of skyrocketing health insurance premiums, an aging population average, an obesity epidemic, staggering health insurance deductibles, a rapidly climbing incidence of diabetes, a looming doctor shortage, and a record breaking budget deficit – we need to shout “yikes!” Alan Greenspan said “The greatest threat to the economy is healthcare.”

Our government’s attempt to tweak the system is equivalent to putting up a tent in a hurricane. I don’t recommend relying on any government for one’s health care. The truth is that we won’t stop being sick until we stop making ourselves sick. The ultimate solution is that we need more self-care not more health care.

In my holistic family practice, I consistently observed the benefits of self- care. I have hundreds of stories from my 25 years of doctoring patients of all ages. I’ll never forget the elderly lady who turned red with anger for her physician when I asked if her recently prescribed popular osteoporosis drug had come with information about the well researched improvement in bone density from mild exercise.

  And I remember the tears a middle aged gentleman dropped when I told him about the studies that show significant cardio-vascular benefits from adding more essential fats like Omega 3 to his diet. “Why wasn’t I told?” he asked with a trembling voice as he pointed to the scars from his coronary bypass operation received after a ping-pong of medical referrals. I could go on and on.

Aside from my many stories that some experts might foolishly label as anecdotal, there are the dismal wellbeing ratings that we American’s score as tabulated by the World Health Organization.

Basically we are at or near the bottom of the lists on all measures of health, except for one – our costs (we have the most expensive system by a  long shot)! When a doctor says “This won’t hurt one bit” we have every right to say “ouch”. Better yet, I think we have a duty to say “wait” and then ask “do I really need this?”

Let’s face it, the only thing man has ever really cured is a ham! Real health and healing come from within. You can see the evidence if you accidently cut your skin; our bodies know how to mend. Even Dr Albert Schweitzer,  the Nobel Prize winning physician from the last century said “The best thing we doctors can do is to get out of the way and let the patient’s own inner doctor do it’s job.” 

No doubt there are times when modern conventional medicine is needed and can be a life saver; but it’s obvious that saying “the emperor has no clothes” is long overdue.

So what can an individual do? Plenty! And how can a family become less dependent on the high priced, higher risk American system that is truly more of a “sickness care” model than a healthcare system?

Ask questions.

I frequently trained my patients to ask the following question when given prescriptions ”Thank you doctor for your recommendation, but will you work with me as a pursue a trial period of a more natural approach”. As you can imagine, I did not gain any doctor friends this way! 

I also told my patients not to expect agreement with their request but to demand cooperation. With the exception of emergency or life threatening situations, there is rarely a valid reason not to try a more natural holistic approach, perhaps as simple as improving nutrition, increasing exercise, or even managing stress with lifestyle modifications.

One of the tips I frequently suggested to my patients was to strive to eat a big salad daily, perhaps even making a meal of it by adding some quality protein like walnuts, an egg, or an oily fish like salmon or tuna.

Many saw remarkable benefits with that one modification alone! Essentially, better nutrition comes down to this, if you want to be more alive than dead; then eat foods that are more alive than dead.

And as far as exercise, I rarely used that uninspiring  word. Instead I taught them to engage in some form of fun physical activity for an hour every day.

The truth is that if it isn’t fun it won’t get done. Boredom is the most common reason that people soon stop after starting an exercise routine. C. Everett Koop says “Inactivity kills more people than smoking.” I say get moving and keep moving for your entire life!

There are dozens more of these simplistic and easy-to-implement tips that can make a real difference for you and your family’s wellness; everything from stretching, feeding your mind with positive and uplifting content, drinking more pure water, and even becoming mindful of your posture.

The best news I have for anybody who is feeling guilty right about now, or better yet, making some plans for self-care is this: all through my career I’ve been amazed at the improvements in health that can result from doing even just a few of these lifestyle modifications.

My point is that it’s never too late to start and that this is not an all or nothing situation. But whatever changes you make or self-care you start, it does need to be consistent.

So here we are with the solution to America’s health care debacle.

Not so difficult is it; and certainly inexpensive, right? But it’s that inexpensive part – that’s where the barrier is. Since nobody will be making money from your increased health, there is not much motivation for anyone to lead you there.

You have to do it. You must get more educated on self-care methods, utilize them, and then as Stalin would say “vote with your feet!” Oh yeah, and don’t forget to share your enthusiasm with others.

I’m all for health insurance but the best insurance is not to need it. It does not really insure your health anyway; instead, common sense and some discipline will.

The real cause of death is really suicide by poor lifestyle choices.  Will you and your family choose to survive this perfect storm and be part of the solution?


 Dr. Tom Potisk, is a wellness speaker, and author of Whole Health Healing: The Budget Friendly Natural Wellness Bible for All Ages.