We’re all in this together.
Many, if not most, of the significant and expensive complications of chronic disease — including dialysis, amputation, vision loss, dementia, coronary artery disease and stroke — occur not immediately, but decades after the initial diagnosis is made.
Whereas hypertension will definitely make a dent in your budget, costing you real dollars for medications and doctor’s appointments, it probably won’t have you filing for bankruptcy. Compare that with a stroke, which routinely devastates entire families. Hypertension is pocket change when you consider the profound costs, for example, of leaving a job to provide round-the-clock care for a suddenly dependent spouse or parent.
In the United States, many people receive medical insurance through their employer. After the age of 65, however, most medical expenses are paid by Medicare. Medicare is government-sponsored medical insurance for individuals of retirement age (along with a few additional “grandfathered” diagnoses). When we get sick, Medicare covers the cost of care. As American citizens, we fund Medicare with our own dollars to cover the costs of caring for our friends, family and fellow Americans.
We all pay for our epidemic of chronic disease, which markedly raises the likelihood of serious illness in the elderly. It may be a drag to be diabetic when you’re 40 or 50, but it’s a nightmare to deal with the consequences of 30 years of uncontrolled blood sugars.
Understand that I still want my dollars to continue funding Medicare, so that families in crisis know, at the very least, that their medical costs will be covered while they are in rehab, learning to walk or speak again. But I want my dollars to go to education, infrastructure, nutrition, health and wellbeing as well.
I want to be a member of a nation-wide community that supports people figuring out how to incorporate self-care, physical activity, nutritious food, and rest & relaxation into our days. This is about preventing chronic disease, rather than chasing its dire and expensive consequences. For if we continue to spend so much of our resources on the last, there can be little remaining to fund the first; but if we fund the first, the need for the last will drop significantly.
All roads lead to Medicare. We can diminish suffering with prevention. It’s not only the most economical way to care for Americans, it’s also the most humane.