lectern shotThe podcast “Consumer’s Guide To Health” returned to the airwaves in January. This biweekly podcast and live stream airs on BlogTalkRadio every second Thursday at 11:00am central time. Join the discussion!

Episode 39 is entitled “Affordable Health Care”. We are constantly reminded by the powers-that-be (and I use that term loosely) that the US health care system is, and I quote, the best in the world. With that said, the World Health Organization ranks the US as #37 in the world. The US spends 17% of its GDP on health care annually, about 7 to 10% more than any other industrialized nation. It is expected to top 20% over the next decade. When nobody can afford the system, how good can the system really be?

My guest for this episode is Dr. Shannon Mitchel, a physician practicing occupational medicine and urgent care in Austin.

All previous episodes of CGH are currently available on my BlogTalkRadio channel. You can subscribe via RSS and the podcasts are also available on iTunes.

The next episode will be on Thursday, March 29.

Episode 39 Notes: Affordable Health Care

Welcome to the Smart Life Project's "Consumer's Guide To Health" for March 15, 2012. I'm your host, Allan Besselink, coming to you live from Austin, Texas (as I do every other Thursday at 11:00 am central time). This show is brought to you by the Smart Life Project, a health initiative based in Austin, Texas committed to providing sports science solutions for training, rehab, and life. Life is a sport - play smart.

Becoming a consumer of your own health and health care is critical in this day and age. The health care and fitness worlds can be a challenge to negotiate. But we are also in an era of accessibility to information, and as I always say, knowledge is power - if only we'd use it. Let's face it though - the inability to challenge our belief systems in the face of good scientific evidence is the primary limiting factor in the advancement of both health care and coaching, as well as human performance and injury prevention. And as I always say - don't shoot the messenger.

The primary goal of this show is to increase awareness of these issues so that people can become better consumers of their own health - from the grass roots level.

With that in mind, our call in number is (347) 843-4753.

Today's episode 39 is entitled "Affordable Health Care". We are constantly reminded by the powers-that-be (and I use that term loosely) that the US health care system is, and I quote, the best in the world. With that said, the World Health Organization ranks the US as #37 in the world. The US spends 17% of its GDP on health care annually, about 7 to 10% more than any other industrialized nation. It is expected to top 20% over the next decade. Keep in mind that that is not paying for a universal health care system for all - just those that have insurance. So for those concerned about having health care for all, or not wanting to pay for someone else's health care, you might want to take a look at the numbers a little closer.

When nobody can afford the system, how good can the system really be?

The health care system as we know it in this country is, quite frankly, a mix of poor incentives and special interests. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise lovingly referred to as Obamacare, is so long and drawn out that it is impossible for a lawyer to read, let alone a patient. Few know how this will impact them, if at all. Yet the special interests - of which there are many - continue to talk of death panels, changes in insurance coverage, and rationing of care. Now, the debate has even gone so far as to focus on contraception.

The ACA is really a band-aid on a system that is fundamentally broken. That being the case, it may look unsavory to many because, well, it is just that - a band-aid of a broken system.

Episode 3 of Consumer's Guide To Health, back in 2009, first discussed the issue. At that time, the Kaiser Family Foundation's healthcare tracking poll found

  • 53% of Americans cut back on healthcare due to cost concerns in the past 12 months
  • 35% say they rely on home remedies and over-the-counter drugs rather than visiting a doctor
  • 34% report skipping on dental care.
  • 27% report putting off healthcare they needed
  • 21% say they have not filled a prescription
  • 15% say they cut pills in half or skipped doses to make a prescription last longer.
  • 16% report putting off care for a more serious problem, either postponing a doctor's visit related to a chronic illness such as diabetes or delaying major or minor surgery.
  • 19% experienced serious financial problems recently due to family medical bills.
  • 34% say they are worried they will lose their health insurance.

I have always promoted a system of health based on access to care, quality of care, and cost of care. Call it whatever you want - universal health care or whatever - but it has to have these aspects. But does the ACA actually create "Affordable Care"? And if not, what would truly be required to accomplish this?

My guest for today's podcast is Dr. Shannon Mitchel. Shannon is a physician practicing occupational medicine and urgent care in Austin. Shannon brings a broad perspective and insight to our show today. She began her career as a physical therapist in 1994 and practiced in a variety of settings, eventually becoming an adjunct faculty member at her alma mater, Texas Woman’s University. In 2002 she started medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. A ballet dancer since the age of 3, she started running marathons in the mid 90’s and is now an ultra-marathoner, completing distances up to 100K. She also serves as medical director for ultra-marathons, including the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race held every February.

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Photo credits: joehardy

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