80-20 Rule. When it comes to the cost of health care.


According to information published by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Half of the population spends little or nothing on health care, while 5 percent of the population spends almost half of the total amount.

According to the published data (See link below), the average cost of healthcare in the United States in 2004 was $6,280. Updated to 2011 data, which included a 40%+ increase in overall healthcare spending, the average annual cost for every man, woman and child in the United States is now $8,485.

That number is about 20% lower than the average cost per employee in businesses—now around $11,000. Why the difference? Because the employers are also paying medical bills for the employees’ families.

Older people take more drugs for chronic diseases. But on the TV ads, you would think that it’s only the beautiful people who take most of the popular drugs.

Devil in the details. According the Department of HHS, “actual spending is distributed unevenly across individuals, different segments of the population, specific diseases, and payers.”

  • Five percent of the population accounts for almost half (49 percent) of total health care expenses.
  • The 15 most expensive health conditions account for 44 percent of total health care expenses.
  • Patients with multiple chronic conditions cost up to seven times as much as patients with only one chronic condition.

Those struggling to develop strategies to reduce or contain costs consider whether efforts should be targeted broadly across the entire health care system or more narrowly at specific areas or aspects of care. For example, is the continuing rise in health care expenses due to:

  • The increased cost of treatment per case?
  • The growth and aging of the population?
  • The rise in the number of people treated for the most expensive conditions?

Let’s first take a look at the distribution of health-care costs by age group:

The under 65 (working age) group accounts for 57% of the total cost of healthcare in the United States.

Chronic Conditions Contribute to Higher Health Care Costs

Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population reportedly have one or more of five major chronic conditions:

Prozac; one of the better known drug for mood disorders

  • Mood disorders.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Asthma.
  • Hypertension.

What about obesity? According to the report:

“Especially important is the increase in the number of people treated for conditions clinically linked to obesity. From 1987 to 2002, the proportion of the population treated increased 64 percent for diabetes

A number of factors might explain the substantial increase in treatment rates for conditions linked to obesity. These factors include a rise in the number of people with obesity-related conditions, a rise in the number of more seriously ill patients, a greater emphasis on preventive care, and the introduction of broader treatment options.”

Consecutive daily blogs (numerals from the L.A. freeway system)

The Bottom Line. We know that the cost of health care will continue to rise unless there are some huge, fundamental changes in the way we view health and the treatment of disease.  We also know that the average cost of health care rises as we get older and fatter—a continuing process for most Americans.

As most Americans age, their bodies have had more years to endure the damage inflicted by our toxic western diet—and they eventually resort to the use of various drugs for relief.

But our 100,000 miles of arteries start getting clogged long before we have our first heart attack. Further, most cancers are not even detectable until they’ve been growing for 15 or 20 years. For all of our chronic, food-driven diseases, the damage begins long before that damage can be detected by our healthcare professionals.

The good news. We know that a whole foods, plant-based diet can quickly clean out the clogged arteries—and it can also prevent the spread of cancer. (See Ornish piece below) Finally, one thing we know for sure is that everyone gets older every day. The best way to control the cost of healthcare for older people is to teach them how to promote their health with food while they are young.

For your convenience, the source information from the HHS, along with a few of my earlier blogs on this topic.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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