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What if you only paid doctors when you were healthy?

Objective: having empty hospital beds

Objective: having empty hospital beds

If a patient became sick, the doctor would not be paid until the patient’s health returned. This notion is not as ridiculous as you might imagine. This is practiced widely and sometimes exclusively in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South and North Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong. It is a basic philosophy of Chinese Medicine that has been practiced for over 3,000 years – the prevention of disease and the maintenance of health.  The doctor is paid a retainer to keep their patients healthy. The objective is to not need a hospital bed because you are healthy.

Photo Credit Diabetes Care via Flickr

Photo Credit Diabetes Care via Flickr

According to Susan Ko, “Among the 5 arms of Chinese medicine, dietary therapy is considered the highest form of medicine. We do not know why dietary therapy is thought of so favorably but we theorize that if a doctor can cure disease through nutritional counseling, the patient gains the ability to cure their own disease and maintain health.”

While many doctors (hopefully most) enter this profession because they want to help people, there is also that percentage that enter this field for financial reasons, although these days it is usually only the specialists that are able to command a very high income. In the U.S. cardiac surgeons with 6 years experience earn an average of over $600,000/year, neurosurgeons over $700,000. For their education, training and skill level, they are certainly worth their pay level and their prescription pad.

Photo credit:  The Javorac via Flickr

Photo credit: The Javorac via Flickr

However, the argument is what if we learned a little from the Chinese Medicine doctors where we paid our general med doctors a monthly stipend when we were well. Would they have an incentive to learn about nutrition and supplements to help you avoid that visit to the cardiac surgeon?  If they noticed that your blood pressure was elevating, would they insist on you switching to a Mediterranean diet, call you back in a month to monitor your progress in order for you to get back into the column of being a healthy and therefore paying patient?  Perhaps the prescription pad might be used less if the medicines being prescribed had negative side-effects, made you sick and caused you to suspend they monthly payment? Perhaps this would help to make it a disincentive to doctors for accepting stipends from drug companies for recommending chemo drugs that may have little benefit and actually decrease a person’s lifespan?

While doctors may be well-intentioned, the economics of this industry are such that they make more money the sicker their patients.

In contrast, the objective of the health food industry is to keep you healthy. This is accomplished by proper diet, supplements, natural remedies and regular exercise. The incentive is to try and provide you with products that make you feel good, stay well, and live a long life. The aim is to leave that hospital bed empty because you don’t need it.

If you keep yourself in very good shape, maybe you can enjoy visiting a coral reef during your “senior years” rather than watching it on t.v.

Coral Reef off Bonaire

Coral Reef off Bonaire

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