Health is More than Health Care

  • According to the Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (2008), the United States ranks 34th in the world for life expectancy (we ranked 29th in 2004).
  • People in Demark, Chile, Cuba, Korea, Italy and Andorra live longer.
  • United States spends $7720 per capita on health care while Japan, the nation with the longest life expectancy of 83.4 years spends $2878 per capita.

The documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick?, produced by PBS in 2004, and still pertinent today, highlights messages about health.

Ten Things to Know About Health

  1.   Health is more than health care.
  2.   Health is tied to the distribution of resource
  3.   Racism imposes an added health burden
  4.   The choices we make are shaped by the choices we have.
  5.   High demand + low control = chronic stress.
  6.   Chronic stress can be deadly.
  7.   Inequality – economic and political – is bad for our health.
  8.   Social policy is health policy.
  9.   Health inequities are neither natural nor inevitable.
  10.  We all pay the price for poor health.

Many of us in healthcare believe that people consiously make unhealthy choices and that is why they are sick.  WAIT!  Re-read #4!  Choices are made by the choices we have. What if choices are not available or there is no money to cover the cost?

The first episode, In Sickness and in Wealth, (click link to see an excerpt), clearly demonstrates that class status does correlate with health outcomes. The film posited that when  a person is exposed to constant stress (racisms, poverty) the adrenals produce more cortisol causing an increase in blood pressure, blood glucose level along with a decrease in the immune system. While this process is essential in a flight or fight situation, constant exposure, keeping the levels high, leads heart disease, diabetes and illness.

Awarenes is our first step in the journey! Together we can improve health outcomes!

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