In the Western world, we live in a culture obsessed with band-aids. Especially in America, we live in the moment, ignoring warning signs or choosing not to be forward-thinking enough to think about consequences. Have fun now, worry about consequences later. After all, it’s nothing that a little duct tapeâ€Š—â€Šor a band-aidâ€Š—â€Šwon’t be able to fix.
It is this attitude that has created what I like to call our “sick care system.” Of course I can’t take the credit for the phraseâ€Š—â€ŠI didn’t coin it. But, as a post-doctoral researcher and then project manager in the microbiome field, it became a motivating factor for my workâ€Š—â€Šand my own values. I don’t know who came up with the term, but I heard it first out of the mouth of one of my favorite collaborators, Larry Smarr.
“We don’t have a healthcare system,” he said. “What we have is a sick-care system.”
Most basically this means that instead of working to prevent disease and illness, we simply wait until there is a problem and then try to fix it with drugs, surgery, or any number of therapies that fix the symptoms but don’t address the underlying problem.
Millions, maybe even billions of dollars could be saved if people began to live to prevent disease, rather than treat it when it inevitably arrives. This requires an entire change in thinkingâ€Š—â€Šan entire lifestyle switch. In essence, what we need is a new health insurance plan.
Now, I’m not talking about the health insurance we’re so familiar withâ€Š—â€ŠBlue Cross, Aetna, Kaiser, what have you. I mean the health insurance plan that you have 100% control over. I mean your health insurance plan. A plan that won’t shell out money to you when you need to go to the doctor and fill a prescriptionâ€Š—â€Ša plan that will hopefully prevent those doctor visits and prescriptions, especially those chronic condition medications.
Let me give you an example. Here’s what my health insurance plan looks like.
Part A: A CrossFit membership.
Part B: Chiropractic.
Now, I’m not here to evangelize about either one of the aboveâ€Š—â€ŠI know plenty of people who evangelize about both. I also know that CrossFit isn’t for everyone, and chiropractic isn’t for everyone. Really, you could replace those two words with anything: running and acupuncture, pilates and massage … you get the idea. The point is, we should all be engaging in some sort of physical activity, and engaging in some sort of recovery process that supports and heals our bodies so they can perform at their best.
For me, CrossFit provides the cardio, strength, and balance fine-tuning that I need to have energy, to feel strong and independent (I’ll never forget the day I singlehandedly loaded a heavy cedar armoire into the bed of a small pickup truck because the two 50 year old men who came to buy it from me couldn’t do it. Oh yeahâ€Š—â€Šthis was the same armoire that before CrossFit I could barely help someone else move), to have the stamina to ride my motorcycle safely and tirelessly for the long miles my weekly commute requiresâ€Š—â€Šand a number of other benefits I won’t name here.
I added the chiropractic because the adjustments align my body so that I can lift better with less risk of injury, breath better during engine workouts, be more aware of my posture all throughout the day, even when I’m not at CrossFitâ€Š—â€Ševerything to help me be the best I can be while working out and outside of the gymâ€Š—â€Ševerything to help me be the best version of me that I can be (at least physically).
Each costs me $150/month.
It’s a $300/month health insurance plan. For some, that may seem hardly anything. For others, that may be completely unaffordable. But everyone, no matter their financial position, should find and implement their own, self-driven health insurance plan. It could save you thousands of dollars later in life, and if it extends your life for even just one more day, then you don’t need me to tell you that the savings are already priceless.
Here’s to to true healthcare!