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LIFELONG HEALTH- Healthful Resolutions: Diet, Exercise, Thinking PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr. David Lipschitz   
Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:06

The new year is here, and I can imagine that millions of Americans are resolving to live a healthier life. The stereotypical resolutions to eat less and exercise more will once again push to the forefront of our collective consciousness, only to be (guiltily) forgotten weeks later.

But with the graduated implementation of the Affordable Care Act, every American, no matter what age, should become more educated and empowered about his health. Resolve to learn your role in maintaining your health and independence and develop a close, trusting relationship with your physician.

If you are over the age of 50, get regular medical checkups. Be prepared for your doctor's visit. Write down problems, medications taken, physicians seen and specific issues that need addressing. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand your illnesses, no matter how small, and therapy options available. Doctors have many varying opinions that include conservative, middle of the road or aggressive treatments.

Study your illness and if a specific treatment plan is suggested, ask the following questions: Will it prolong life? Will it improve the quality of life? What are the side effects? Are there less invasive alternatives? Ask your doctor for information that will assist you in making the best decision for you and your family.

Physicians must play a central role in health-care reform, resolving to address the many excesses in health care. We must do this because we are the ones who diagnose disease, order tests, admit patients to hospitals, recommend major surgeries and prescribe expensive medications. Physicians must consider quality of care, place a stronger emphasis on prevention and strive to communicate well with patients.

We must avoid unnecessary and duplicative tests, only recommend procedures that are of benefit and use expensive therapies only if cheaper alternatives are not available or not effective. We must practice evidence- based care, where every test or procedure is backed by sound, scientific evidence of benefit.

Most critically, insurance companies and the federal government must resolve to change the way physicians are compensated. With hands on the purse strings, insurance companies need to shift focus away from high technology, acute care. At this time, surgeons and medical specialists are rewarded handsomely for their efforts, while there are few incentives for primary care physicians.

Sadly there are scant rewards for promoting health and preventing illness. Insurance companies must resolve to stop paying purely on the basis of feefor- service and work to eliminate huge disparities that exist in physician salaries based upon their specialty. In addition, insurance companies can lead the charge for evidencebased care, making it difficult to receive reimbursement for tests or treatments that are of no benefit and rewarding physicians or hospitals that effectively reduce costs by avoiding unnecessary care.

Politicians must accept that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. The legislative and executive branches of government must create a cooperative bipartisan environment where our health-care system can be refined and improved. In addition to working together, they should seek advice from those who are most qualified to come up with solutions — not lobbyists, think tanks or healthcare academics who sit in ivory towers with little patient care contact. Only health care providers truly understand the issues.

Lawmakers must resolve to seek out those "in the trenches" — physicians who truly understand the problems facing us. Let us all work as one to solve the problems of our dysfunctional health care system. We do not need to ration health care, nor do we need to deny health care to anyone. Practicing more of the right medicine that is rational and appropriate, rewarding healthcare providers for successful care and encouraging everyone to live healthier lives is the key to our future success.

Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz visit www.drdavidhealth.com.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 03:09