Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Health Care Could be Fixed Overnight . . .”

Today, AOL ran commentaries on American health care and whether the new proposals will make a difference. The comment of one CEO who runs an enormous health provider, caught my eye. As I read it, I thought “he is talking about the USA, but the exact same thoughts apply to Qatar, to Kuwait, to Germany, where an epidemic of self-inflicted health problems is growing wildly.” And it also occurs to me that he is laying the accountability squarely where it belongs – on our shoulders.

David Feinberg, M.D., M.BA.
CEO, UCLA Hospital System

“The debate they’re having now in Washington is the wrong discussion,” says Feinberg. “They’re not talking about health-care reform. They’re talking about health insurance reform. The bill in Congress has nothing to do with health care.” He explains that health care could be fixed overnight if people would stop using alcohol and drugs, eat right and exercise.

“I have 800 patients in this hospital today, and I bet 50 percent of them have illnesses that could have been completely prevented,” Feinberg says. “That situation is not going to get better with a ‘public option.'”

He points out that even people without health insurance can receive care when they need it in the emergency room, and, while it’s not ideal, they’re not being denied care because they don’t have health insurance. “It’s impossible to give high quality, low cost care to everyone. What we need is to decrease demand for health care.”

According to Feinberg, some 75 percent of illnesses are treated at home, whether that’s a bad cold or a sprained ankle, and he says that health-care reform should be focused on home care. “When you compare us to other countries with similar Gross Domestic Products, they spend half what we do on health care because they have a different lifestyle,” he says. “We either need to change our lifestyle, or it’s going to be very expensive.”

“With all due respect,” he adds, “the surgeon general is obese. I don’t think the President of the United States should be solving this.” Rather, he says, each individual needs to come to terms with the fact that eating right, exercising, and avoiding smoking and alcohol will transform not only their own lives but the ever increasing cost of health care in this country.

You can read all the commentaries on AOL Health News. I know most of us in my age group need more exercise (not you, Big Diamond!) and are beginning to stave off the common age-related problems of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, aches and pains, etc. We all KNOW we could be eating better and exercising more. We are smart educated people – but do we do what we know is best for ourselves? NNoooooooooooo!

I see the same epidemic striking in Germany, in Qatar and in Kuwait, people who have enough to eat are eating too much. Yes. Yes. I’m guilty. And I exercise a lot less than I need to. I was so happy to get back into a house, with stairs, so at least I would get the exercise of going up and down stairs a few times a day.

Japan has instituted a national policy of health, measuring citizens waists and penalizing them for carrying too much weight. I will be interested to see how it works out, if it pays off in health benefits and lowered costs down the road. It’s an inspired mandate.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Diet / Weight Loss, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Germany, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues | | Leave a comment

Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions

This article, from The New York Times (you can read the entire article by clicking here) gives me a big grin.

I can’t imagine American lining up because the government says we will have our waists measured, and be expected to meet a certain standard or lose weight and be penalized. Can you imagine Kuwaitis allowing the government to tell them how big their waists can be?

Japan is one of the most law-abiding nations on earth – I guess you have to be, when you have so many people occupying so little space. When you think of the Japanese, you think of politeness, courtesy. Outbreaks of rage are an anomoly.

And the government is right – obesity causes more and more expense down the road because it exacerbates other conditions. But someone’s weight is a very personal thing!

Published: June 13, 2008

A poster at a public health clinic in Japan reads, “Goodbye, metabo,” a word associated with being overweight. The Japanese government is mounting an ambitious weight-loss campaign.

Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.

But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he said.

Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.

The ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society’s ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today. Most Japanese are covered under public health care or through their work. Anger over a plan that would make those 75 and older pay more for health care brought a parliamentary censure motion Wednesday against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the first against a prime minister in the country’s postwar history.

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News, Relationships, Social Issues | | 6 Comments