Although Eight Shifts for Wellness was not written to address health care policy, the underlying principles and concepts have implications for United States health care policy. The U.S. has a disease-based health care system rather than a wellness-based system and current policy reflects this model.
There has been an ongoing debate for decades about how to control health care costs. Many of the discussions center around issues such as how to pay for medical services, how much the government should be involved, how much flexibility insurance companies should have, which medical services should be covered and how to limit the pay, and who should or should not be covered under various insurance and government insurance plans.
The discussions are constrained by the “iron triangle” of health care which is comprised of costs, quality, and access. A dilemma arises because a change in one component of the triangle may have an undesirable affect on the other two. For example, how do you increase access without increasing costs, or how do you reduce costs without reducing access or quality?
I offer that the real long term solution to rising health care costs will not be found in these topics being debated. The long term solution to rising health care costs lies in people enhancing their own health and wellness and reducing the need for expensive medical care.
Health insurance companies and businesses have recognized that they can have a positive impact on their health care costs by improving people’s health and wellness. They use health and wellness coaches, a selection of wellness modalities, information, training, support, wellness newsletters, and other tools to help clients and employees improve their health and wellness. Even the general public on its own is moving toward an increased interest in wellness and staying healthier.
What if we draw a larger circle and seriously shift the U.S. health care policy conversation to a wellness-based approach which pays for needed medical care while also focusing on assisting people to remain healthier? This would break us out of the iron triangle dilemma.