Michael D. Thomas, DC
You receive this newsletter because you are a patient in my office or because you have an interest in this method of healthcare. Less than 8% of people go to Chiropractors in the US so you are not an average person! Whether you made us your first choice or you made the rounds for years in the medical world and have come out of desperation, you now have a sense about how the structure of your body affects its function. You may have a better idea of the importance of your nervous system for coordinating your health. Many of you have come to regard being in adjustment as a powerful tool to not only regain health but to maintain it. I believe upper cervical chiropractic care is primary care. We are seen in the world at large, however, as â€˜alternativeâ€™ care. This month I am going to give you a perspective on what we are â€˜alternativeâ€™ to and some reasons why. In an ideal world, we would all work together to minimize costs and improve our patientâ€™s outcomes. Unfortunately, there is little communication between chiropractors and their medical counterparts. There is much more to write about than I can squeeze into a short newsletter, but I think an informed person makes better decisions. While medicine can be vitally helpful in acute traumas and overwhelming infections, it continues to use drugs that stifle and palliate symptoms in chronic conditions. The treatments often turn life off instead of removing the cause. Most of the time, these are the type of problems we go to our doctors for.
A 2010 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 35% of Americans over the age of 60 are taking 5 or more prescriptive medications daily. This number has doubled since 1999. 22% of children under the age of 12 are on at least one prescriptive medication. In 2008, the House Commerce Committee found that for every $1000 the pharmaceutical industry spends on advertising, they gain 24 new diagnosed patients. In the past, pharmaceutical advertisements were aimed at the doctors who write the prescriptions. However, the industry realized they could greatly increase their profits if they advertised directly to the consumer (DTC). These DTC ads produce seven times the revenue of ads aimed at doctors. A 2003 survey found that one half of doctors use the drug representatives, who come into their office to sell them on their proprietary medications, for their information regarding the drug. There are now 90,000 drug reps in the USA. This amounts to one rep for every nine doctors. In interviews with recruiters, cheerleaders are the number one subgroup they are looking for in new reps. College major was considered unimportant. This is about business.
How lucrative is this market? Well, considering statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) alone, the industry spends 250 million dollars a year on advertising but reaps 11 billion dollars profit. This is each year with this one class of drugs! Pharmaceutical companies spend 16 billion dollars a year marketing to physicians. Pharmaceuticals are the most profitable sector in the US. This means it is more profitable than Big Oil, Banking, and all other sectors.
According to “Innocent Casualties” author Elaine Feuer: “Because the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation that does not regulate the prices or profits of drug companies, prescription drugs generally cost 25 to 40 percent more than in other countries.” She also noted that because of the markup on drugs in this country, half of all profits come from the US market even though sales are worldwide. The world market in 2001 was 364 billion dollars.
The FDA estimates it costs over 7 million dollars to bring a new drug to market. Pharmaceutical companies put that figure closer to 70 million dollars. They say they need two million users of a substance just to break even. Since natural substances cannot be patented, there is even less room for profit in them. (from Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine by Daniel B Mowrey PhD, page 291)
Since pharmaceutical companies are the overwhelming leaders in pharmaceutical research, scientists must study what is being funded and not for instance, plant estrogens which cannot be patented but could be a godsend to so many. Many , many natural herbs and other complementary medicines and procedures are left unstudied because there is no profit in them for the companies who fund the studies. Again, this is about business â€“theirs not yours!
Even more disturbing, the way that medicine has come to be practiced in the US is now recognized as the third leading cause of death in this country behind heart disease and cancer. The statistics that illuminate this calamity include 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgeries. There are 7000 deaths per year from medication errors in hospitals. Other hospital-based errors contribute another 20,000 deaths. There are 80,000 deaths per year in hospitals due to hospital-acquired infections and 106,000 deaths per year due to the negative effects of drugs. (World Health Education Initiative, Barbara Starfield, MD 2000)
But surely we have the best healthcare system in the world? Ah no. Actually U.S. News and World Report noted in 2010 that:
â€œDespite having the costliest health care system in the world, the United States is last or next-to-last in quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability of its citizens to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based private foundation focused on improving health care.â€
Data from the 2007 report revealed that the US spends the most on healthcare of any developed nation. We spend on average, $7,290 per person per year on healthcare in this country! This is twice what Canada is paying and almost three times the rate that New Zealand spends on its people. The Netherlands has the highest ranked healthcare system in the world and they spend $3,837 per person per year.
The US actually ranks last or next to last in measures of access to care, efficiency, equity and long, healthy and productive lives. We are in the middle of the list of developed countries on issues of effective and patient-centered care. In 2008, 14 percent of U.S. patients with chronic conditions were given the wrong medication or the wrong dose. This is twice the error rate observed in Germany and the Netherlands. The US reports three times the rate of delayed notification for abnormal test results or being given wrong results as compared with Germany or the Netherlands. In the US, 54 percent of people with chronic conditions reported going without needed care in 2008 (more than half of us!), compared with 13 percent in Great Britain and 7 percent in the Netherlands.
Here in the US, 28.9 million people ((9% of our population) delayed seeking medical care in 2009 due to the expense. Another 21 million people did not receive the needed care due to being unable to pay for it. This means that 50 million people cannot get adequate healthcare in this country. It is estimated that one third of adults did not get medical care, did not fill a prescription, or skipped a needed test because of the expense. (2010 National Health Interview Survey from the CDC.) 44% of adults in the US did not have insurance at some point in 2009. This is a nine percent increase since 2003.
Universal healthcare, which is not unlimited care by any means, but is an attempt to provide a package of benefits to overcome financial risk, provide access and improved health to its citizens is available in many countries including most of Europe, Canada, Russia, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Greenland, Russia, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, and others. The controversial Obamacare plan does not provide universal coverage. It still leaves an estimated 23 million people without access to insurance.
How can chiropractic change this for you? A large 2004 study performed by a Chicago â€“based HMO revealed a decrease of 43 percent in hospital admissions for chiropractic patients. For those that did have to go into the hospital, their stays were 58.4 percent shorter. It decreased by 43.2 percent the number of outpatient surgeries and procedures and cost 51.8 percent less in drug expenditures. Staying healthy is a lot cheaper than waiting until disease has set in and then having to deal with the consequences. Chiropractic care can keep us healthy.
(â€œClinical and Cost Outcomes of an Integrative Medicine IPA,â€ Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. June, 2004; 27(5): 336-347)
That is probably enough numbers and statistics for now. An informed patient makes better decisions. I have gathered these together to help you begin to understand this healthcare world a little bit better. I believe that upper cervical chiropractic opens up a whole other world of effectiveness. Many of you have experienced this this in your own lives. While upper cervical chiropractic is becoming well known for its effectiveness in many conditions, it may be most effective in keeping you healthy in the first place!