Our nation is in the grip of a raging debate over reforming a grossly misnamed "health care" system that threatens to bankrupt our economy. In 2008, U.S. medical costs reached $2.4 trillion, or 17 percent of our gross domestic product, growing at an astronomic annual rate of nearly 7 percent.
That's $8,000 per person, or $20,000 per household. It's a major factor in mortgage defaults underlying our economic crisis.
And these numbers don't even begin to account for the economic toll of lost productivity, or the emotional toll of crippling disease and premature death.
The tragic irony is that these outrageous costs have little or nothing to do with "health care" and everything to do with "medical care" directed mostly at alleviating chronic killer diseases that are self-inflicted through our flawed lifestyles. Actual health care is absolutely free. It consists of regular exercise, adequate rest, and abstinence from smoking, hazardous drugs, and meat and dairy products.
Yes, meat and dairy. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 1.4 million Americans are crippled, then killed annually by heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. That accounts for 70 percent of deaths from known causes, and presumably, for a similar percentage of medical costs, or $14,000 per household.
We have no control over the national costs of medical care. But, each of us can exercise a great deal of control over our household's $14,000 share every time we visit our favorite supermarket.