Monday, April 11, 2011


So, let me ask you: would you work really hard at a job if you knew that the end result of all of your hard work would be that you would no longer have a job?

The top grossing industry in the United States in the past year or so is health care. In fact, it's been one of the fastest growing industries for quite some time, and I've been hearing since I was in college about the nursing shortage.

So, what would happen if every one got healthy? If they really did find a cure for cancer, AIDS, asthma, diabetes?

Every medical research scientist would be out of work.

Most doctors and nurses and other health care providers would be out of work.

If we were all healthy, we wouldn't need the pharmaceutical companies, because we wouldn't need drugs. The drug manufacturers and their suppliers would all be out of a job.

If we didn't need doctors or drugs, the insurance companies would go out of business.

Seems to me, it's in someone's best interest that we stay sick.

But is it in ours?


  1. I'm Canadian. I also spent 15+ years in research (agriculture, not medical).

    We don't have the same issues with insurance companies that you do, but we still get sick.

    And seriously, it's hard enough to get three scientists to agree on where to go for lunch - a vast conspiracy that some talk about, pertaining to medical research is simply ludicrous, in my experience.

    I know vaccines help more than they possible hinder, I know most researches actually passionately care about the work they do, and I know the vast majority of people take pride in the work they do, or would if allowed to.

    Illness is something that happens to the best of us - it is NOT a symptom of our society. We in the western world live longer, FAR longer than any generation before us.

    Sorry, but I really do disagree that it's the Man that is keeping us sick. Pollution? Sure. Cheap, bad food? Sure. Big pharma conspiracies to hide the cure for cancer? Not so much.

  2. I get where you're going with this, but there will always be injuries and illness. There will always be folks who know about how to set bones and cure sickness. While I definitely think that there would be FEWER if everyone in the world were healthy (and that would be great), I think there will always be a place in any society for healers. There will always be those who WANT to heal and care for the sick. And I think that is the difference you are looking for. You want medical professionals to actually heal. heh. Perfect world, and all that, right?

  3. The top ten causes of death in the "western world" (that is "high income countries”, like the US, Canada and Europe) are:

    1. Coronary heart disease
    2. Stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases
    3. Trachea, bronchus, lung cancers
    4. Lower respiratory infections
    5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    6. Alzheimer and other dementias
    7. Colon and rectum cancers
    8. Diabetes mellitus
    9. Breast cancer
    10. Stomach cancer

    Four out of the ten are cancers. Three out of the ten have been directly attributed to lifestyle and dietary choices. If we eradicated cancer and improved our diet, we could eliminate, seven out of the top ten causes of death in the “western world.”

    By contrast, the top ten causes of death in low-income countries are:

    1. Lower respiratory infections
    2. Coronary heart disease
    3. Diarrheal diseases
    4. HIV/AIDS
    5. Stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases
    6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    7. Tuberculosis
    8. Neonatal infections
    9. Malaria
    10. Prematurity and low birth weight

    Most of these causes of death require medical intervention, but the people in these countries can’t pay for the care.

    I’m not saying there’s a “vast conspiracy”, but what I am saying is that someone has a vested interest in not encouraging us to be healthy.

    When I go to the doctor, because I’m having shoulder pain, and he says to me “Let’s try this [insert name of medication]”, but doesn’t do any diagnostic testing to try to figure out why my shoulder is hurting, I get the feeling that he doesn’t really want me to be well. He only wants me to stop hurting. Eventually, however, if the root problem is not resolved, the pain will return, and I’ll be back at the doctor’s office for more “pain relief”.

    I’ve worked behind the scenes in the medical industry for a decade, and too many times, I’ve seen cases where non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment would have greatly benefitted, and perhaps, resolved the problem, but the insurance companies denied the “cheaper” treatment in favor expensive surgeries or experimental drugs. And they make us believe that they are doing this in our “best interest”. Really?

    A home-birth midwife is cheaper than a hospital delivery by an OB, but in most places a homebirth midwife is not covered by insurance, even though there is significant evidence to PROVE that midwife deliveries are actually safer than hospital deliveries. The US has a 25% c-section rate, which means that one out of every four births in the US are delivered by c-section. The WHO states that a 10% c-section rate is too high. But a hospital birth by an OB is much more profitable than a homebirth by a cheaper midwife.

    When my dentist calls me a “customer” rather than a “patient”, something feels very wrong.

    Conspiracy or not, the bottom line is that money talks.

    But let me throw one more thought into this discussion: we are running out of money, not just as a country here in the US, but as a world. When we here in the western world can no longer afford to pay for all of the drugs and all of the doctors, what do you think will happen to our life expectancy?

    “They” are keeping us alive, because “we” can afford to pay for it, and for no other reason. If “they” really cared about life, in general, health care wouldn’t be a profit driven “industry”, and the worldwide life expectancy wouldn’t be so uneven.

  4. Have you seen the movie Food Matters? It is on Netflix instant view. You can see the preview here I thought what they had to say about pharmaceutical companies was pretty interesting. I don't necessarily agree with everything in the movie, but it was very thought provoking.

  5. Just for the record, I'm not saying that all doctors and medical professionals are bad. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for alternative care providers, and those who view "disease" in a holistic manner - that is something that affects the whole body rather than just one "system" in the body.

    So many of the health problems in our society are related to our lifestyles, but rather than change our habits, we believe our doctors will fix us - and they encourage us to hold onto that fantasy.

  6. I think this is a very good point, and really is part of the greater rule of thumb that you should always think about what is in a person's best interest when considering what they have to say. The person's intentions might be pure (or not) but their vested best interest will have an effect on their advice whether they intend it to or not. This is why I feel that I must have my own opinion on care when I visit a dentist, vet, or surgeon in particular, or I will be paying for (and someone in my care will be undergoing) unnecessary, often unpleasant procedures.
    As other commenters have said, this does not mean all people in the medical field are looking just to make a buck, because certainly many of them care deeply about making people better. But it is up to us to determine what medical advice to take, and considering the best interest of the source is one important factor.

  7. I am a doula and a childbirth educator, and I would like to correct one point; the cesarean rate in the US is now over 32%....and rising.
    ( )
    That means 1 out of 3 babies in the US is now delivered by a knife, instead of using the natural exit.

    I know OBs who've never seen an unmedicated birth, or a birth without any interventions. They can't even imagine attending a birth without a staffed and ready operating room nearby, and they can't conceive of women who actually prefer to birth naturally.

    I truly believe that the vast majority of healthcare professionals go into the business to help, and heal. But no-one can deny that hospitals are businesses, as are insurance companies, and I also truly believe that making profits at the expense of "us"(financial ruin, poor health, death) is considered collateral damage, and part of doing business by those in control of those industries.

  8. Kate - thank you for your comment. That's a very disturbing trend, especially given that during the 1990s the numbers were decreasing. I have some personal experience when it comes to c-sections and trying to have a natural birth experience as a "VBAC." I would very much have liked to have seen those numbers go the other way, because I know what's possible, if we're informed instead of scared.

  9. Wendy, this may not be the forum, but I think you should consider publishing your brithing stories as an example for doulas, midwives, and the healthcare field in general. People need to hear what is possible, because everyone is making fear based decisions - doctors don't want to get sued, insurance companies don't want to get sued, women don't know what is possible and don't want to endanger their babies or themselves ....