Will health care reform survive? Does it matter?
Veteran journalist looks beyond the new law to the state of health care in 2020
(DALLAS) Health care is expected to change more over the next 10 years than it has in the past 50. By the end of this decade, 20 cents of every dollar will be spent on health care, and there won’t be enough doctors and nurses to provide care. If gasoline had risen at the same rate as health care spending since 1980, we would be paying $9 per gallon.
So more spending and more comprehensive insurance coverage means better health outcomes, right?
Wrong, says award-winning veteran journalist Steve Jacob. In his new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors, and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us (January 2012, Dorsam Publishing), he distills six years worth of reporting on health care policy, and reveals what can truly be done to change the course of American health.
While health care reform appears promising, Jacob argues that it fails to address the major causes of disease: Lifestyle. Smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, and binge drinking are the leading factors in most chronic disease and premature deaths, yet only 3 percent of Americans follow all the personal health habits to avoid these conditions.
“If people made the right lifestyle decisions, health-care costs would recede as a public-policy ticking time bomb and Americans’ quality of life would soar,” says Jacob. “Successful chronic-disease management is tricky. But if successful, could take a huge bite out of the nation’s health-care costs.”
That’s why Health Care in 2020 is a huge wake-up call. Contrary to popular belief, “Obamacare” largely was shaped by the health care industry rather than the president. The new law is unlikely to curb rising health care costs, workforce shortages or change the health behavior of most Americans. According to Jacob, Americans can do more for their longevity by taking personal preventative steps than waiting for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to act as a safety net. Consider that:
- 40 percent of households struggle to pay their medical bills,
- 9 out of 10 employees lack an understanding of the value of preventive services, and more than half said they have “no motivation to stay healthy,”
- 30 percent of all medical care delivered today has no benefit to the patient.
According to Jacob, the only way to truly lower health-care costs is to use the system less. And the way to achieve that is to vote with our dollars and our minutes, spending our money on foods that nourish us, and our time on activities that sustain us.
An insider’s look at the questionable forces that shaped our current health care policy, and how we can correct it, Health Care in 2020 is a must-read by one of the nation’s go-to health care experts.
STEVE JACOB (www.UnitedStatesofHealth.com) is veteran journalist, sought-after speaker, and a trend-tracker on state and national health care policy. He has spent four decades as a daily newspaper and magazine editor and publisher. He contributes to outlets such as D Magazine, Forth Worth Magazine, Dallas Morning News Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Hospitals and a variety of health care organizations. During his tenure at Fort Worth Star-Telegram, his award-winning health commentary was distributed nationally by the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Jacob is an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of North Texas. He holds master’s degrees in journalism and business administration from Indiana University and a master’s degree in health policy and management from the University of North Texas.