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Charting the Mainstream: Trends Data and Action of Use to the Movement to Better Integrated Care PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Charting the Mainstream: Trends, Data and Action of Use to Efforts to Better Integrate Care

Summary: Unfortunately, the care, the perspectives, the orientation and the labor of those in integrative medicine, natural health care and integrated health are still rarely part of the dialogue about health system reform. Call it negative languaging, but we remain in the back eddies, rarely consulted, and under-utilized in most talk and action toward healthcare reform. The idea of this irregular column, Charting the Mainstream, is to note developments and trends in the mainstream of medicine which parallel, invite, or offer bridge abutments for those working to advance the basic, human-to-human, patient-focused, health creating care. This article re-opens that practice. 
Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.

Regarding the Wreck of the Health Care System


ImageFor those of you who didn't see the new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), here is the projection of what healthcare costs per capita, will be doing over the next few years:

 
  • 1993: $ 3,468.6
  • 2004: $ 6,321.9
  • 2005: $ 6.697.1
  • 2006(e): $ 7,092.0
  • 2007(e): $ 7,498.0
  • 2011 (e): $9,525.0
  • 2016(e): $ 12,782.2

Meantime growth as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appears only to be creeping up, from 16% to 19.6%. A Integrator adviser Michael Levin states, the spending per capita is a "more meaningful measure." As my series on my operation last year showed, these costs can slam a family quickly ...


Employer Benefits Costs Jump, Coverage Shrink; Slow Uptake of "Consumer-Directed" Plans


The Chicago Tribune ("Companies' costs grew 8% in 2006," March 16, 2006) included a brief notice from a survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. Chief findings were:

 
  • In 2006, the cost to companies of providing health care jumped 8%, twice the rate of inflation.
  • While 38% of companies now offer consumer-directed health plans, which combine high deductibles with tax-advantaged savings accounts, those enrolled are "a relatively low" 8 percent, according to the Tribune.
  • Only 33% of new hires will receive financial support for medical costs post retirement. This compares to 43% of current employees.
  • Watson Wyatt surveys over 573  companies, representing 11-million employees.

Number of Uninsured in Middle Class Jumps


ImageResults of a New York Times/CBS News article published March 5, 2007 reports that growing percentage of the uninsured are denominated "middle class."


The article cites a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute  which calculated that 17-million of the nation's 47-million uninsured have family incomes of over $40,000. And nearly 32-million are from households with at least one family member working full-time. The National Association of Realtors has reported that 28% of its 1.3 million members are without health insurance, for instance.

The federal government estimates that the  rolls of the uninsured have jumped 6.8 million since 2000. The article notes that while there is no consensus definition of "middle" class," the median household income in 2005 was $46,326. ("Without Health Benefits, a Good Life Turns Fragile, March 5, 2005.)


Growing Support for Paying for Universal Coverage


Meantime, the percentage of human beings in this country
- exceedingly wealthy though with increasing disparities -  who are willing to pay something to insurer universal coverage is growing. Half of 1,281 adults surveyed in a telephone poll February 23-27 said they would pay $500 a year more to insure coverage for all. 60% - including 46% who identified themselves as Republicans - said they would pay more taxes. And 80% agreed that providing "universal access to health insurance" was more important than extending the "tax cuts of recent years." (Poll Shows Majority Back Health Care for All, New York Times, March 1, 2007.)

Thanks, in particular, to Integrator advisers Michael Levin and Lou Sportelli, DC, of sponsor firm NCMIC Group for sending me these links.


Comment: Back-eddy. That's the image. The talk of healthcare reform begins swirling, again, and a big river swells to potentially move some large boulders. Meantime, those of us in integrative medicine and integrated healthcare who believe that we have something to contribute in our models of care and approaches to patients remain, mainly, outside the action. The potential of these contributions is a scenic back-eddy, populated with a myriad fascinating species, but with hardly more than a trickle of communication with the big river over there.

This irregular Charting the Mainstream feature, like the recent Integrator article on the healthcare reform proposal of US Senator Ron Wyden is an attempt to explicitly begin to lay out data and draw lines which can help us see where we are - even if we are merely reminded of how far out of the picture much of what we are working toward remains. I invite your stories, links and strategies.

Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.


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