I think we can create a wellness economy for ourselves, our children and grandchildren…

I just read “Fans watching the NBA Finals battle between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors may have noticed the Kaiser Permanente logo accompanying the media backdrop the Warriors use to conduct interviews with the press. A recently announced partnership between the American health services giant and the Golden State Warriors branded Kaiser as the team’s official physician, in addition to the role it already serves as the NBA’s official healthcare expert and consultant.
The Kaiser brand travels north of the border as well. During halftime of game two between the Raptors and Warriors, TV broadcasters Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong announced a partnership between the Raptors and Kaiser Permanente to dedicate a newly created NBA Cares Learn & Play Centre at the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre in Toronto.

So, what exactly is Kaiser Permanente? Why is it able, unlike Canadian hospitals, which seek philanthropic support, to act as a philanthropic donor and corporate sponsor?
For starters, Kaiser Permanente is the largest integrated non-profit healthcare system in the United States, generating $79.7 billion US in operating revenues in 2018 alone with a “profit” of $2.5 billion US. To put that into perspective, that’s far more than the entire Ontario healthcare system spends on delivering services ($61.3 billion CDN). Kaiser Permanente is one of many healthcare organizations in the U.S. that pays big money to associate their brand with popular American sports teams in an effort to grow their customer base and capture market share in the burgeoning U.S. health management economy.” — The Medical Post

It would appear to me that US style health care may some opportunities for private care in Canada.
I have 4 kids.  Let’s just say they are a chess teacher, a musician, a doctor and a nutritionist.  Likely only one or maybe two of them would be able to afford sickness in the US system.
For now in terms of health security, they are doing ok in Canada.  A serious accident or sickness will not herald financial destitute.
Canadians have at least for now collectively agreed to insure each other against such calamities through universal healthcare.
In a sustainable insurance scheme the net contribution exceeds net consumption.  In the Canadian system, public contribution through taxation is limited by taxable income.  Private contribution through employee benefits from corporate revenue is also limited. Consumption seem to grow limitlessly and is approaching the limited contributions.

I think a collective decision is being forced.  Do we abandon Universal health? That would bode badly for most of my children. Or can we somehow make it work?

I do see some ways I can help to decrease healthcare consumption and preserve Universal Health for my kids.

Metabolic syndrome

I am baffled by the sheer volume of processed food at the grocery stores.  These are constantly consumed by my fellow insured. It got me thinking about the 30% combined pre-diabetes and diabetes rate in Canada destined to cost us an additional $200 Billions on healthcare expenditure that is largely preventable through daily consumption of 400 grams of non-starchy vegetables ( & little fruits).
According to Shaun Loney, author of “The beautiful bailout - how a social innovations scale-up will solve government’s priciest problems”:
Annual health care cost per Canadian = $6604
Annual health care cost per Canadian with diabetes = $26416; Difference per year = $19812

It would appear we have collectively and perhaps unknowingly agreed to bear the burden of chronic diseases caused by our own poor dietary habits.  

In 2016 Canadians imported 3.7 billion worth of vegetables

The value of vegetables produced in Canada  rose 2.0% to $1.2 billion in 2017.

The food and beverage processing industry is the second largest manufacturing industry in Canada in terms of value of production with shipments worth $105.5 billion in 2014

Canada has positive trade balance at $2.6 billion in 2014 for processed food and beverages.

Assuming CANADA don’t export vegetables; then Canadians paid  $4.9 billion for vegetables in 2016

Assuming food processing and beverage industry did not change between 2014 and 2016, then Canadians spent $102.9 billion for processed food and beverages.

Hence, in 2016, Canadians’ spending on vegetable is <5% compared to spending on processed food and beverages.

So the problem with low vegetable consumption seems to be pandemic - possibly a problem for the rich and the poor.

So we can potentially save Billions annually and eliminate the burden of illness by targeting our habits of non-starchy vegetable deficiency!

Mental Health

My mother and father immigrated from Taiwan to Canada with their 4 children. Mom worked as housekeeper; my father worked as a janitor. They raised their family while making minimum wages. They cooked every meal and lived simple. We were blessed with a country that welcomed us, where education was subsidized, healthcare was free and opportunities abound. I was surprised to find out that library books were free to borrow. We furnished our home with perfectly usable furnitures we’d pickup from curb side. It was an easy life compared to where we had came from.
I believe while Canada is full of opportunities, it is the perspective of self-reliance I learned from my parents that allow me to benefit from the opportunities. I used to assume everyone had such perspective. Now I know it is not so. I think it is one of few important perspectives I have and wish to share with those in need – equally as important as other social determinants of health.

Only recently, after many years in practice, I learned about mindfulness training and running groups as a way to help others learn important perspectives.  It has been immensely valuable both personally and professionally for me.

So I think there are many ways to eliminate sufferings and save billions in the process.

For me, as an individual and healthcare provider, I would role model wellness with every meal I eat, discuss the importance of nutrition at every patient and student encounter and run weekly Self-management education groups.  (If anyone is interested in learning to run groups, I’d be happy to help.)

As a taxpayer, I would like to see my tax money go towards wellness promotion at every public institutions: Education, Healthcare and Governments.

As a wellness advocate, I would like to appeal to private corporations and media moguls to put their marketing ingenuity and capital behind the creation of an economy based on wellness rather than illness.

I think we can create a wellness economy for ourselves, our children and grandchildren…

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