Home / Culture and Society / Health and Fitness / Spiraling Chronic Care Costs: How Can We Reclaim Control?

Spiraling Chronic Care Costs: How Can We Reclaim Control?

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Over 80% of us are online searching healthcare issues. These issues range from finding out about a particular disease to exploring alternative treatments. Quite often when I am part of that 80% it is because I, or someone I know, is experiencing a health problem and is in need of help.

Another highly searched area is the cost associated with a particular procedure or solution. These results continue to lead us to the conclusion that health care costs are spiraling out of control. They make up just over 1/6th of our current GDP and are rising rapidly. For instance I recently received a notice from my health insurance company that my premiums are going up 28% starting in September. We all need to consider how to control these costs.


Graph of the Milken Study


This data was conducted in the Milken Institute study, “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Impact of Chronic Disease.” Notice this study not only highlights the economic impact of chronic disease, it also shows a great loss in worker productivity.

And a recent New York Times article pointed out that 75% of health care spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented.

Surely these statistics urge us to ask: Is there a place in this discussion for how our everyday thoughts and choices affect our physical health? Each of us can consider: In my daily choices of activities, diet, and social events, can I make better choices which will help bring down healthcare costs? One choice that is increasingly made by many – and has worked consistently for me – is to incorporate spiritual practices into our regular routine.

I attempt to include prayer in my daily routine (some days are better than others). My prayer is to affirm a divine guidance that is constantly present and available to me and all of us here on the spinning rock called Earth. This divine Goodness is known to me as a divine sense of Love, not just any old type of love. It is a unique spiritual love.

Allow me to elaborate. In Western culture, the word “love” is one word attempting to describe an almost infinite number of types. I say, I love my wife; or I love my house; or I love my daughter; or I love pizza; or I love God. Now I know that I do not love my wife as I love pizza (no jokes here, she is reading this). There is a wide range of meaning here, so when I equate God with Love it is a love that I am growing into every day and not some shallow sense of fleeting passion.

This past January, I felt really ill one morning, just as I began my morning prayer and reading of the scriptures. I remember at first thinking how angry this situation was making me and how fearful I was of its outcome. Sitting there I wondered how in the world I could ever learn a deeper sense of love when these thoughts of anger and fear were overwhelming. As I continued, I let the Bible fall open as I do every morning. It opened to I John where the writer says, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him… perfect love casteth out fear.”

This idea of God as love helped me see that I was loved unconditionally and I should do the same without worry or fear. As I continued my day, I felt better physically.

Daily personal prayer might just be one component in controlling costs of choice-based, patient thought-centered care. One study from the Stanford Neuroscience and Pain Lab that has looked at the effect on people who are in pain when they experience different types of love concludes, “when people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain.” It goes on to conclude that it should be possible to use non-pharmacologic means to reduce the experience of pain.

Similarly, at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, studies into “simple interventions” or “contemplative traditions” practiced over thousands of years – such as having compassion for others – have shown they can reduce stress and increase indices of adaptive immune function. Both of these can lead to improved health.

Does adding mindfulness and/or spiritual practices to our healthcare improve the quality and cut the costs? In considering your health and its care, what ways have been effective for you to help lower the nation’s “out of control” healthcare costs? Let’s continue the discussion here. I would love to hear your story and have you share your thoughts in the comments section.

Powered by

About David Corbitt

  • Tom Evans

    I’d like to comment on Joseph’s response #4. We do need to take action as a nation in order to improve our nation’s average diet. I like the idea of an excess consumption tax on junk food. Unfortunately, I think this may take close to a generation to accomplish. You can bet the fast food industry and junk food manufacturers will spend billions to prevent a consumption tax from becoming law. If such a sin tax ever passes what will be next? Imagine a candy bar required to have a warning label on it like tobacco products. Candy companies will spend their entire net worth to remain in a positive light in the perspective of the public.
    I’m with you Joseph, but I would like to bring about more immediate change. As David hinted in his earlier comment #2, our thought is a factor. As an avid runner I watch what I eat before and after a workout, but I’m not counting my caloric intake or grams of sugar. Instead, I eat and think about my true sustenance and nourishment spiritually. As a Christian I look to the teachings of Jesus on this issue. In the famous “sermon on the mount” Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes” (Matt 6:25)? I am not worrying about what the food will do to me, but I am eating sensibly. God is my provider.
    It’s odd, writing this response to your question Joseph, I feel out of place almost, like the concept I am working with is out of date. It is 2000 years old, but I find that it is tried and true. I do find myself relying on a higher power for strength and true sustenance on a regular basis. This is not to say that one ought to fast before running a marathon. I actually have never fasted. I’m with David. One’s thought is the determining factor in a meal, not its caloric content.

  • David Corbitt

    Thanks 4 the comments Igor, Deborah, and Dr. Maresca! We need this debate to bring forward a better system. A system facilitating the “whole man” and not just bits and pieces.

    As we learn more about the impact of thoughts on actions; consciousness on health; and love on humankind the “pieces of the puzzle” will better fall into place.

    janduke thank you 4 your comment. This link is at the heart of reclaiming control in every aspect of our lives– our daily choices, our system, our new discoveries.

    Solutions will unite us and not divide us as we debate with respect, love, and wisdom in our hearts!

  • janduke

    I appreciate the blogger’s idea of “thought-centered care”. I know my thoughts and actions have a tremendous influence on my health!

  • Igor

    @5-Deb: wrong. Insurance companies do not compete, they organize into monopolies and impose prices and terms on helpless disorganized clients. The more they spread the wider their baleful influence and the less freedom of choice among their helpless customers.

    There will be no competition across state lines as long as state regulators are weak and unable to manage insurance companies. And federal regulation (which is what we need) is prohibited by the 1945 McCarran Ferguson act, which is still in place.

    Collectivized UHC is working just fine in all European countries, which have about 1/2 the cost of the USA private system.

    It is monopolies which destroy freedom, and commercial monopolies are much worse than government monopolies because you have NO vote with commercial companies (except your wimpy little “take it or leave it” choice when the commercial monopoly presents it’s bill).

    The great monolithic insurance monopoly allows you NO freedom. Not only that, but you don’t even know the limits of your insurance policy until you arrive at the hospital door and a billing clerk denies you entry because of some contrived defect in your policy. And you have no recourse!

  • Deborah

    Igor, costs will skyrocket with no competition. We need to introduce insurance competition across state lines, and also make people responsible for their own decisions. Collectivism is always expensive financially and psychically and destroys liberty.

  • I would like to see an excess consumption tax on junk food. For instance, the daily sugar allotment is 25-37 grams at most. The standard coke has upwards of 30 grams of sugar. Consumers must be aware of portion control at Burger King and other like kind establishments. The fairest course of action is to levy an excess consumption tax on large portions like double cheeseburgers and triple burgers.

    Basically, any food with sugar should have an excess consumption tax levied to pay for all the illnesses that stem from junk food like childhood diabetes, heart disease, clogged arteries, strokes etc. A stiff consumption tax would raise $$ and drastically reduce health care costs and indeed the need for health care in many cases. Smaller queues mean lower costs in the long run.

  • Igor

    The only way to control costs is with Single Payer Universal Healthcare. It is insurance company monopolies that are driving up expenses as the insurance companies take bigger bites out of the money circulating through the system and at the same time reducing payouts to patients.

    There are close to a trillion dollars a year in unwarranted charges in our Private Healthcare Insurance system and we MUST take that out and put patients and doctors together for good health at reasonable cost.

    We also have a HUGE Public Health problem due to the subsidies and favors extended to junk-food makers and purveyors.

    The ONLY solution to those problems is Single Payer UHC!

  • David Corbitt

    Dr. Maresca, I agree “garbage in, garbage out” the same is true for thought. What are we thinking about and taking in as fact? How can that be changed? By doing the same destructive things over and over expecting a different or better result? What step can I take today toward a better sense of health tomorrow?

  • Gain control by placing an excess consumption tax on junk food.