“Today the top causes of death are noncommunicable diseases … coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, some cancers.” (“We’re Having the Wrong Debate about Rising Health Care Costs” by Geoff Colvin, “Fortune,” April 2012)
The bulk of these ailments come from smoking, alcohol and sugar addictions and the excess calorie counts of super-sized meals. Even chocolate is suspect, however. A recent study out of Yale University indicates that the brain responds to chocolate milkshakes in the same way that drug addicted brains respond to chemical stimulants. (Colvin, pg. 60)
Calvin’s argument is that what’s wrong with the health care system and the reason it is becoming so expensive is that it rewards bad habits with high tech treatments. He argues that we need to reframe the debate so that the question asked isn’t how we share the high cost of medical care but how we reduce the number of users by changing the public’s health habits.
In the 1800’s a prescient Samuel Butler proposed a dark solution for self-destructive behavior. In his novel “Erewhon” people who fell to disease were treated as criminals. A bit drastic perhaps, but Calvin has given us something to think about.