A man walks into his doctor’s office

A man walks into his doctor’s office

A man walks into his doctor’s office and complains that when he raises his arms, his shoulders hurt. He asks, “What can I do to stop the pain, doc?” The doctor replies, “Stop raising your arms!” An old joke but a good lesson.

A pain being experienced by all Americans is the high cost of health insurance. If everyone is going to be required to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, shouldn’t we have some say in controlling the cost and stopping the pain?

Most employers in Maine and New Hampshire that offer health benefits share the cost with their employees with the businesses typically paying more than half of the cost for their employees. Though insurance costs continue to rise,neither employers nor employees are listening to the doctor’s advice –“Stop doing the things that cause the pain!”

Said another way, bad diets (which we control) and lack of exercise (which we also control) are driving the cost of health insurance.

Let’s look at Type Two diabetes as a chronic, expensive and largely preventable disease.

  • 18.8 million Number of US adults with diabetes in 2011
  • 7.0 million Number of US adults with undiagnosed diabetes in 2011
  • 79.0 million Number of US adults considered pre-diabetic
  • 33% Percentage of the US population the CDC says will be diabetic in 2050
  • $7,900 Average annual individual cost to treat diabetes
  • $176 billion Estimated annual cost of US diabetes treatment
  • 230% The amount diabetics spend for health services compared to non-diabetics

The other chronic condition largely of our own making is heart disease. The culprit most often cited is cholesterol, fats that coat the arteries which often break loose causing heart attacks. Nutritionist Dr. Pam Popper of the Wellness Forum writes, “In 1985, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic placed 24 patients who had collectively experienced 49 cardiovascular events on a low-fat plant-based diet. After dietary intervention, cholesterol was lowered from an average of 246 mg/dl to an average of 150 mg/dl. Disease progression was stopped in many patients, and some experienced complete reversal of their disease (documented by follow-up imaging). Five patients were told they would not live until the end of 1985, and they are all still alive today.”

Whether you are an employer or employee, the cost of health care can be controlled by making better dietary choices. As employers, you have an opportunity to lead your organization toward better health and lower costs.

Again, Dr. Popper writes, “The best approach to health improvement in the workplace is not to try to talk anyone into anything, but rather to provide information so that people can make informed choices, and provide incentives for them to follow through on those choices. Many people, once they understand the limited efficacy of many traditional drugs and treatments, and the results that can be achieved with diet and lifestyle change, are anxious to make changes right away. Of course, not everyone will be convinced, but over time, as your company’s culture changes, more and more people will buy in.”

Dollars saved on health insurance premiums drop straight to the bottom line. Isn’t it time to stop the pain by changing how we eat?

Clark Insurance wants to help lower your cost of health insurance. Give us call and we’ll show you a number of ways to make it happen.

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