In today’s economy everyone wants to save money. For those looking to save money on health care expenses, please consider the following sobering statistics.

In 2008 Americans spent $2.1 trillion dollars, or 16.5% of the gross national product, on medical care – the majority of which went to treat chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, both of which are preventable and certainly reversible.

Rather than focusing on prevention, our “health care system” is primarily a “disease care” system.

The unspoken message has generally been to ignore prevention, wait until it’s broken, and then seek out the “magic bullet” or latest-greatest drug to cover up the symptoms. Or if that doesn’t work, simply cut it out.

This si a severely defective and expensive approach – one that is threatening the welfare of a growing number of American households. Some 54 million Americans will go without health insurance this year alone.

I’m sure you would agree that spending money on expensive medical procedures that are worthless is foolish.

Take for example the data provided by the American Heart Association showing that 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed in 2006 at an average cost of $48,399 each. And in that same year 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each.

Americans spent more than $100 billion in 2006 for these two procedures alone.

Yet a randomized controlled trial published in April 2007 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that angioplasties and stent therapy don’t prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients(i.e., 95% of those who receive them).

Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it. In spite of the studies, and there are several which show that bypass and stent therapy are ineffective, physicians, insurance companies, and the public at large all continue to robustly support these expensive and dangerous procedure.

And what about the soaring costs of prescription drugs?

Americans now spend over $250 billion a year on prescription drugs – more than do all the people in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom combined!

Studies show that drugs as a whole, work for as few as 25% of those who take them. And our growing reliance on these ever more expensive “me too drugs” is creating huge profits for drug companies while ordinary Americans are struggling to pay their health insurance premiums. Between 1998 and 2002, the FDA approved 415 new drugs.

Only 14% of these newly approved drugs were actually uniquely different or innovative in their design. The other 86% were old drug formulas masquerading as new innovative therapies.

For example, there are six cholesterol lowering statins on the market right now, five SSRI anti-depressant drugs, and at least nine ACE inhibitors to treat high blood pressure.

The Medicare prescription drug benefit only made matters worse for health care consumers.

The plan prohibited Medicare from negotiating drug prices, even though those prices continue to rise much faster than inflation.

Representative Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican and former chair of the House Energy and Commerce Commitee (which oversees the drug industry) co-sponsored the drug bill, was rewarded with a high-paying job as chief executive of the pharmaceutical industry’s trade association. Go figure.

Notice the cost and profit margin for the following drugs and see some of the over-the-counter bargains that often work as well.

Celebrex 100 mg. Consumer price: $130 (100 tabs)
Cost of general active ingredients: $ 0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

OTC NSAIDS like Advil cost $15 for 200, 200 mg capsules – a prescription strength dose would be 800 mg up to 3 times a day. A bargain.

Claritin 10 mg. Consumer price: $215 (100 tabs)
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

The OTC antihistamine Zyrtec sells for $14 a month.

Lipitor 20 mg. Consumer price: $272 (100 tabs)
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

Prozac 20 mg. Consumer price: $247
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

Zoloft 50 mg. Consumer price: $206
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

You gt the idea. But drugs have to be expensive, right? All that money is needed for research and development. Right?

Don’t believe it! Only about 14% of Fortune 500 drug company revenues are applied toward research and development, while over 30% is devoted toward marketing.

If you really want to save some money invest in prevention – diet, exercise, good health habits and proven nutritional therapies.

When it comes to our health we should heed the words of the great philosopher, Virgil, who said, “The greatest wealth is health.”

Schedule a consult with Dr. Miller.

Taken from Dr. Roger Murphree’s E-newsletter-Feb

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