Patient, help thyself - Macleans.ca
 

Patient, help thyself

The role of individual responsibility for wellness is under debate. Should healthy choices be rewarded?


 
Patient, help thyself

Andrew Vaughan/CP

On April 27, Maclean’s hosts “Health Care in Canada: Time to Rebuild Medicare,” a town hall discussion at the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel in Vancouver. The public forum is held in conjunction with the Canadian Medical Association and broadcast by CPAC.

Numerous polls put health care as the top priority in the federal election campaign, yet until recent days there was little debate about the failures of a health system that is a middling performer among most wealthy nations in its scope, cost and outcomes.

There’s an alarming lack of new ideas among national leaders on ways to either help provinces improve delivery of public health services or to rein in what a new report by the C.D. Howe Institute calls “chronic health care spending disease.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has committed to maintaining the six per cent annual federal funding increase contained in the current health accord (as have the Liberals) but he’s ruled out “radical” changes in health care. That seems to preclude expanding the Canada Health Act beyond its current focus of insuring doctor and hospital care when the current health accord expires in 2014. Last Sunday, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff pledged to convene a first ministers’ meeting should he win the election to begin early negotiations on a new health funding accord. That may have been prompted by a similar call days earlier by Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. “This campaign provides an opportunity for federal parties to share their vision for the future of medicare,” McGuinty said. “Right now, that vision is lacking.” The next accord will set the financing and design of health care delivery for 10 years. Without change, there will be no publicly funded drug plan, or initiatives to help an aging population live independently. More to the point, many fear the status quo is unsustainable.

Canadian Medical Association (CMA) president Dr. Jeff Turnbull said the Canada Health Act has to shift its focus from the decades-old model of hospital care of short-term illness to one that enables health teams to provide long-term chronic care. “Preparations for the next accord represent the last, best chance we have to hold a thoughtful discussion about how that money will be used, how it will transform health care for future generations,” he said in a speech days after the election call.

The challenge was outlined in stark terms in the C.D. Howe report, co-authored by economist Richard Dion and David Dodge, a former governor of the Bank of Canada and one-time deputy minister of health. In even its most optimistic scenario, the amount spent on public and private health care jumps to almost 16 per cent of GDP from 12 per cent today.

The report’s prognosis: increased spending for uninsured services, delisting or “some form of co-payment” for some services currently publicly funded, a cut in other public services and a tax hike to finance health spending. Added to this, “a major degradation of publicly insured health care standards—longer queues, services of poorer quality—and development of a privately funded system to provide better-quality care for those willing to pay for it.” It’s a rat’s nest of issues politicians are keen to avoid.

So, what to do? Well, for one thing, Canadians can take a greater personal responsibility for their health, and for advocating for policies that let them do so. Between 85 and 93 per cent of those responding to a series of Health Care in Canada surveys agreed it was their responsibility “to take care of their own health through prevention of illnesses and injuries and by leading a healthy lifestyle.” Eight in 10 wanted a role in managing their health care. Half said those with healthy lifestyles deserve tax incentives or other rewards.

It sounds very motherhood, but the role of personal responsibility is among the most complex and ethically charged issues in health. It extends to end-of-life treatment options. And if health prevention and wellness incentives are on the table, what about penalties for self-inflicted illnesses? There are initiatives, some more palatable than others, to foster more personal control, including:

DISCOURAGE BAD BEHAVIOUR

Arizona’s often controversial Gov. Jan Brewer has used more stick than carrot in her attempt to tame health care costs. Her proposed budget would cut 138,000 people from cash-strapped Medicaid, the publicly funded health care program for low-income residents. The issue that generated the greatest buzz, however, was her recommendation to impose a $50 fee on childless Medicaid recipients who lead unhealthy lives: smokers, the obese, those with illnesses who don’t follow doctors’ orders. “If you’re not going to manage those things and take some personal responsibility,” said Monica Coury, assistant director of state Medicaid, “then you need to have some skin in the game.” It’s unlikely Canada’s politicians, or its citizens, have the stomach for an Arizona-style “fat tax” or a “loser fee,” as some have dubbed Brewer’s idea. Lecturing Canadians about taking personal responsibility for their health is an unlikely campaign tactic. Yet a reminder we all have skin in the game is an essential ingredient in sustaining and renewing universal health care.

PREVENTION AND WELLNESS

Last September, Canada’s health ministers issued a substance-free statement saying disease prevention and health promotion were key priorities, “and necessary to the sustainability of the health system.” Harper, in a modest nod to fitness promotion, pledged to double the tax credit for children’s sports and recreation fees while instituting a similar credit for adults. It will pay a maximum $150 for children and $75 for adults—but not until the budget is balanced.

Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among the countries using incentives to promote healthy behaviour. The result: “improved health outcomes and responsible utilization of health care services,” notes a paper by the American College of Physicians.

Prevention was a priority at the first three town hall meetings Maclean’s has staged with the CMA. “We need to focus more on some of the health quality improvement activities,” panellist and emergency specialist Dr. John Ross told the Halifax forum, “as opposed to…putting more and more dollars toward expensive [acute] health care.”

MANAGE YOUR HEALTH

Policies that make patients active participants in their treatment are showing excellent results, and savings. A case in point: the Sherwood Park Primary Care Network, one of 40 in Alberta. Once a family doctor makes the initial diagnosis, patients are referred to the centre, a one-stop shop for specialized care. Someone with a chronic illness like diabetes would see a nurse, a dietitian, a pharmacist. They’d get an exercise plan, and, if necessary, mental health counselling. It is delivered at half the cost of using a doctor as the only care provider, says Dave Ludwick, general manager of the Sherwood Park network.

Administrative staff work with patients to ensure they keep appointments and stay engaged in their care. “That motivational element, the educational element and the management element, that’s what a primary care network does well,” says Ludwick. The initial studies show improved health outcomes, shorter wait times and a high patient satisfaction rate. “If they’re happier,” he says, “they’re more likely to engage in the management of their own care, which means they end up being healthier.”

PERSONAL PLANNING

When Bart Mindszenthy’s elderly father, Bart Sr., was still vibrant and in control, he did his family a huge favour. He showed them the book he and Bart’s mother, Lenke, had prepared. “ ‘We call it our death book,’ ” he’d said. “I thought, oh, great,” recalls the 64-year-old son, a specialist, ironically, in crisis communications. Inside were essential family documents, insurance papers, care instructions, even receipts for their prepaid burial and headstone. “I thank him to this day,” says Mindszenthy, a Toronto resident.

The book, and the resulting difficult conversations about his final wishes, allowed him to control his destiny, ease the burden on family and, incidentally, save health costs.

Bart Sr. lived to almost 99. “He just stopped eating one day. He’d had it,” his son said. Doctors wanted to take him to hospital where his life could be prolonged with technology and tube feeding. “It was a gut-wrenching decision because I love my father dearly,” he says. “But I feel the right decision was to have him stay in his home and let him live his last days in dignity.”

Mindszenthy has become an advocate for better elder care. He’s the author of a bestselling book, Parenting Your Parents, and founder of the mycarejourney.com website. Families have a responsibility to have those difficult talks about end-of-life care, he says. Governments would reap rewards if they created better supports to let the frail and elderly maintain their independence and health outside of institutions and hospitals, he says.

At the Edmonton town hall, a nurse spoke about the death of her husband in hospital. “I’ll probably for the rest of my days be sorry that I didn’t keep him at home with me,” she said. “I couldn’t take him home when he begged me to take him home because I couldn’t look after him at home alone. And the [assistance] for care at home is the pits.”

SPEAK UP

One of the great failures of personal responsibility is the mute acceptance of the status quo in health care—another point driven home repeatedly at the Maclean’s/CMA forums. “We need to get angry, we need to say, you know what, this is goddamn not good enough,” Dr. Patrick White, president of the Alberta Medical Association, told the crowd in Edmonton. “That anger has to translate into action,” he said. “Government will not listen and will not make the appropriate changes until they get the advice—and they’re pushed to act on the advice.”


 

Patient, help thyself

  1. In a pay as you go system, the government should have no business butting in people's life. However; in countries where health care is fully funded by the public purse, a carrot if not a stick should help control the ever rising health care cost. I do wonder with people living longer than expected due to healthy lifestyle choices, would it increase the burden on the other end – pension and social security cost?

    • Ariadne
      FYI – regardless which western country you choose to live in – virtually all social services, welfare, unemployment, health care and government sponsored pension plans – have been broke for decades.

      If you are American, and still unaware of the magnitude of unfunded liabilities for :- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – you are in for a VERY BIG SHOCK.

  2. it's just frustrating to go to a walk-in clinic and wait for an hr, only to be told be the doctor that he/she can only entertain one problem at a time. I was told to come back for the 2nd health problem! most walk-in doctors (if not all) are just concerned with how many patients they can bill every single day. its like being in a factory… very frustrating… doctors should remember why they have chosen to be doctors…. its an insult to their profession…

  3. yes every thing has too be looked at ,but this cant afford medicare is propaganda by the right and the corporate right and media and the anti medicare advocates , and insurance companys. and will bend over backwards too promote this ideal even too go as fars as bankurupting a country. too get there way the banks and there ceos just robbed and stole half the worlds wealth, and the goverments bail them out . plus all the money for war mungers and wars.plus all the tax breaks and subsidies for huge corporate entitys ectect the big boys are competeing for the medicare dollar of the tax payers .its simply all a matter of priority . do we want decent medicare or do we want too give trillions away to the bankers corporations insurance and drug companys? which is promoted by a corpoate media . i rest my case if that aint plain enough then go join the sarah pallin donald trump campain,and keep listening too the talk radio wind bags and the glen becks of the world and live happily ever after, until you get sick that is

  4. So true – the super-rich want to privatize universal health in Canada so that they can profit from the sick. They cannot be trusted, Their agenda is 100 percent self-serving.

  5. Without better management of our healthcare system it will come to be a two-tier system. I am adverse to queue jumping by the wealthy and having all the best doctors cater to them leaving the average person or less fortunate to become 2nd class citizens.

    • Anna R
      Not sure where you are from, BUT – in the U$$A it is 100% full-on, for-profit, user-pay, medical system, with outrageous userious premiums charged by HMO's – who will do everything in their power to deny coverage – which is the psychopathy of virtually all major corporate monopoly's – regardless of country.

      sheeple in canaDUH slept, as self-serving politicians sold Health Care to U$$A corporate insurance profit models.

      That is why WE NOW HAVE TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO PAY OUT OF OUR POCKETS, AND POSSIBLY GO TENS OR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN DEBT – or wait in line.

      If a Canadian requires a CAT Scan to determine if they have cancer or not – we have to choose – either we wait 6 – 10 months in que to get the medical services taxpayers funded for the last 60 years, and was at one time considered to be among the very BEST services – OR WE HAVE TO PAY $3500 TO A PRIVATE CLINIC AND HAVE THE SCAN DONE NEXT WEEK.

      Very simple, life or death decisions.

      Peter Carson
      cansteel1978@yahoo.ca

  6. Just an "oops" in my post: homeopathy is not a regulated profession in itself but it is part of some regulated practices such as naturopathy. Also, I forgot to mention: acupuncture is now a regulated profession in British Columbia.

  7. I am inclined to agree with David Dressler's observations and here are some more thoughts.

    If you want patients to heal themselves, then they need to be independent thinkers, because the existing system offers few solutions other than treating the symptoms, repairing damage, and keeping people dependent. Patients who heal themselves don't need health care (other than for a medical crisis). They already have it. So, getting the majority to that ideal state of independent wellness means weaning them off drugs and crisis medicine. You are not going to get leadership from the medical profession on that one, because that's what they do. They are not experts on wellness, but experts on eliminating syptoms (and not the cause) using drugs.

    If there were to be a change at all, and I was in charge of the world, I'd have a forum with wellness practitioners, like non-drug, non-vested interest participants. Massage therapists, alternative practitioners, orthomolecular medicine practitioners, patients who have never used the services of a doctor, of which there are many. Patients who know how to heal themselves. Independent thinkers. Then you'd see change, and people truly being well.

    • For several years I visited and played my guitar for people in extended care, paliative wards and senior facilities almost every Sunday, in hospitals all over Vancouver BC and the interior when I was visiting friends. Everything has changed since when I was a kid in the 50s – not for the better. Most care staff i MET enjoy their work, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM.

      canaDUH is well on its way to having exactly the same failed system asU$$A – a failure delivering patient care – BUT VERY PROFITABLE FROM THE POV OF CORPORATE DIRECTORS, SHAREHOLDERS AND GOVERNMENTS.

      Peter Carson cansteel1978@yahoo.ca

  8. As I recall from memory – I believe it was in early 2009 when I read an article claiming 4,000,000 Canadians were given new prescriptions for SSRI meds the year prior. Considerig the entire country only has 35,000,000 people – it is presumable the market penetration and saturation of drugs from : Paxil, or Zoloft, Celestia, Prozac and all 20 other members of Big Pharma SSRI Medical Industrial Complex – are raking it in – contemporaneous to *dumbing-down* large population segments.

    Add-in GMO, flourides, bromides, and Codex Alimentarius to get rid of nutrition and homeopathy et al – combined with a for-profit, pay-as-you-go system, while HMO insurance adjusters employ dilitory tactics with objectives for claimants to die before coverage is funded – as an income stream for corporate directors and shareholders. People needing medical care – are dealt with as *accounting externalities* – which, if *managed correctly* will yield maximum profits by mitigating costs of care – which effectively translates to reducing life-span to eliminate overhead.

    Peter Carson cansteel1978@yahoo.ca

  9. The Health Care Debate.
    The various footballs that are constantly tossed back and forth, ad infinitum, regarding the escalating cost of “sickness care” and “health care” are most intriguing. In these discussions, they consistently omit one of the biggest and most important issues – namely the involvement of government and government agencies – involving many departments – whose policies are at the roots of actively generating illness and/or preventing health. The problems are not being solved and will never be solved because to do so would severely affect the “economy” of Corporations whose operations are highly toxic and health destructive. There is a great deal of hot air and frustrating rhetoric about “preventive health” but the “actions of government” point in the diametrically opposite direction. Government is engaged in an intensive program of “Health Prohibition”.

    It is interesting to observe the metamorphism in just one agency over the past 40 years. HPB started legitimately as the “Health Protection Branch” – but then corporate political/economic pressures morphed it into a “Health Prevention Branch”, and in recent years has been further morphed into a “Health Prohibition Branch”. It was renamed and misnamed “Health Canada”, when it really operates as “Sickness-Protection and Health-Prohibition Canada”.

    First of all, let us take note of the reality the Government regards Big Pharma “as its primary client”, and not the health of Canadian citizen. Both have vested interests that are diametrically opposite – corporations try to maximize the “economic potential” of “sickness management”, whereas citizens have a vested interest in staying healthy and staying out of the “sickness merry-go-round”. Government seems to be incapable of serving these two Masters, so one is being serviced and the other controlled. The actions of Health Canada in recent years clearly indicate which fork in the road they have chosen. Clearly Big Pharma guards the gates and dictates health and health-care policies, a monumental conflict of interest since this “sickness industry” makes far more money on sick people than on healthy people. Health is the last thing that Big Pharma wants.

    One way to solve the exponential explosion in the “Sickness-Care” Budget is for Government to stop formulating policies that cause illness.
    Let’s look at just a few of these government policy “illness generators”.

    – Government refuses to regulate and/or remove TOXIC PRODUCTS from the market products, even though they are known to be metabolic disruptors and generators of chronic, life-long, debilitating, degenerative illness.

    – Aspartame is one on the top of the list, causing very serious debilitating neurological and metabolic illness, followed by MSG, chemical food additives, pesticides, herbicides etc. etc – the list is long, but it shouldn’t be if government were doing its job of “health protection”. ..All government protected Toxics! While people get sicker!

    – Government promotes and protects Genetically engineered food crops – although it has now unequivocally established that GMOs constitute a TOXIC FOOD SUPPLY that is guaranteed to generate illness. That applies equally to man and animals. Allergies , diabetes, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, reproductive problems , sterility, lower sperm count, lower IQ, etc. have risen exponentially since the introduction of GMO corn, soy and canola in most processed foods.

    Government – through Agriculture Canada – which does the bidding of Monsanto – promotes the expansion genetically engineered crops that produce toxic foods that contain “perpetual insecticide factories in every cell”, destroy agricultural soils that are laced, annually, with herbicides, especially Round-up, now known to cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems, liver and metabolic degeneration and more…….
    – Government promotes Food Irradiation even though independent scientific research proved forty years ago that the end product is not only nutritionally inferior, but is metabolically disruptive, causes genetic damage, and is both carcinogenetic and teratogenic.
    – Government promotes the poisoning of municipal water with industrial waste Fluoride – when it has been know for a century that Fluoride is very toxic, disrupts metabolism, causes cancer and destroys health.

    – Government mandates an absolutely insane vaccine schedule for infants (Birth to 2 years, when neither the neurological nor the immune system is mature and fully developed)) that leaves in its wake a huge swath of neurologically, immunologically and metabolically damaged children – many ruined for life.

    – Government permits ground water and aquifers to be poisoned – permanently – with extremely toxic chemicals now used in fracking for natural gas extraction. Lakes and rivers to be permitted to be poisoned whenever that is deemed “economically essential” for the corporate “economy”.

    – Government promotes the wireless technology, cell phones, cell towers, etc. knowing full well that the frequencies that are being used are very cell-disruptive and pose a major threat to health.

    – Government permits the skies to be laced with toxic chemicals (Chemtrails) which causes serious respiratory problems – resulting in huge “sickness-care” expenditures. (The USA military has a one Billion dollar budget for this “secret” military operation – and Canada is fully integrated. (Chemtrails are connected with HAARP and weather modification and manipulation as a warfare weapon. For ten years, this mass covert experiment has constituted an attack on the health of the civilian population – and the environment/ecology.

    To crown this insanity, as one of the biggest producers of “health problems” by refusing to remove the toxics, Government has decided that it is best qualified to determine the practice of medicine – whereby it is causing even more health destruction. (The drugs of Big Pharma are the third largest cause of death in North America) For three decades it has been perusing a policy of restricting everything that is therapeutic, wholesome, healthy, effective, and cost effective – precisely those products that people have been using to keep themselves healthy and out of the clutches of the Big Pharma’s “Sickness industry”. (Apparently the ability of citizens to be independent, self-sufficient and medically autonomous is deemed to be “intolerable from the perspective of the Economy of Big Pharma”.) Thus the healthiest FOODS, HERBS and NUTRIENTS were reclassified as “drugs” and are being regulated out of the open marketplace. AT the same time, the natural therapeutics that pose a major competitive threat to Big Pharma’s medical monopoly, are not only regulated out of existence, but policed with Swat Teams.

    As long as Government is a major cause of this epidemic of illness and disease and at the same time obliterates the accessibility of cheap and effective health-supportive products (with which people have been taking responsibility for their own health maintenance), and as long as Government outlaws KNOWN and PROVEN Solutions, Remediations and Cures, and attacks legally and physically the professionals (many being innovative Geniuses) who are well qualified to offer these therapeutics to their patients, there is absolutely no possibility that the health care budget will do anything other than explode exponentially.

    To sum up the problem of the exploding “sickness-care” budget
    – make Government stop causing illness;
    – stop preventing people from taking responsibility for their health because of insane regulations that outlaw the essential foods, herbs and nutritional products and therapeutics that are very EFFECTIVE and SAFE,(but are being removed , or placed under Big Pharma’s umbrella. because they pose a such huge competitive threat to the profitability of Big Pharma);
    – get Government out of the practice of medicine, especially “mandated medicine”;
    – stop supporting “negative, destructive monopoly industries” that prosper from :”retaining or even increasing and creating” the problems. The Midas Touch is very costly. In 1975 I wrote an editorial titled “the Economic Noose” that dealt with these issues.
    – permit REAL science to see the light of day and stop outlawing it through the courts. That is not where science should be adjudicated.
    – stop spin-doctoring pseudoscience, and then feeding it to the public an endless stream of scientifically inaccurate misinformation.- Sceince in recent years has become whatever Corporate NEEDS and WANTS determine it to be. I refer to this as “Alice In Wonderland” science – where the Queen simply DECLARED :”IT IS because I SAY IT IS. That is the authenticity of most of today’s “science” the “Corporate Experts” proclaim.

    The entities that are causing the problems must never be put in charge of solving the problems – the conflict of interest and the vested financial interests are too obvious and prevalent.

    It is the mandate of Government to remove poisons and toxics from the marketplace – which it consistently refuses to do. (There is always some Corporate Economy” that takes precedence over survival essentials.)

    It is not the mandate of Government to practice medicine, nor to determine the practice of medicine, nor to run and regulate people’s lives, putting them into a functional straightjacket with visits from Swat Teams for non-compliance– and then punish people for not taking responsibility for themselves.

    Let’s cut out the hypocrisy – and operate with just an ounce of Integrity – which is now almost totally absent in the area of “health care” – and will remain absent as long as the Government and Big Pharma remain Siamese-Twins that regard “health and people” as COMMODITIES to be milked, fleeced and exploited for the ECONOMY of Monopoly Mega-Corporations.

    The facts are that economical, non-toxic and effective cures and remediations for most diseases have been known for many decades, if not a century, but have been legislated out of existence in a system the regulates science in courtrooms rather than through performance and evidence. We are practicing medicine and health care that is a century behind the research.

    Rockefeller, the original Oil King – the founder of Standard Oil – stated that the only truly unforgivable Sin was to allow competition to survive. This policy was “Buy them out – or Wipe them out”. In 1900, his chemical industry took over control of American Medicine – the birth of Big Pharma’s control over medical policies. The incessant attack on NUTRITION by the Medical Mafia that runs Big Pharma goes back a century. And thus the real SOLUTIONS have been bought out or wiped out.

    It is time for a drastic change – a change that has the courage to tear out the destructive roots – and builds with a measure of sanity that returns “jurisdiction over one’s body and health” back to the individual – who has a vested interest in maintaining health – if only government policy would to stop destroying it.

    Comment by CDSAPI – Citizens Demand Scientific, Academic and Political Integrity.
    Presently Integrity is conspicuously absent in all three areas.

    • Bang on!! You have articulated my views precisely. I would like to see a change away from the term CAM as well. Let us use Holistic or Functional Medicine to describe natural practitioners.

  10. Kasandra, thanks for commenting. The term "Functional Medicine" is defined by the Functional Medicine Institute in this way:

    "Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease. It is a science-based field of health care that is grounded in the following principles:

    * Biochemical individuality describes the importance of individual variations in metabolic function that derive from genetic and environmental differences among individuals.
    * Patient-centered medicine emphasizes "patient care" rather than "disease care," following Sir William Osler's admonition that "It is more important to know what patient has the disease than to know what disease the patient has."
    * Dynamic balance of internal and external factors.
    * Web-like interconnections of physiological factors – an abundance of research now supports the view that the human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, rather than individual systems functioning autonomously and without effect on each other. For example, we now know that immunological dysfunctions can promote cardiovascular disease, that dietary imbalances can cause hormonal disturbances, and that environmental exposures can precipitate neurologic syndromes such as Parkinson's disease.
    * Health as a positive vitality – not merely the absence of disease.
    * Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance health span.

    "Functional medicine emphasizes a definable and teachable process of integrating multiple knowledge bases within a pragmatic intellectual matrix that focuses on functionality at many levels, rather than a single treatment for a single diagnosis. Functional medicine uses the patient's story as a key tool for integrating diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and evidence of clinical imbalances into a comprehensive approach to improve both the patient's environmental inputs and his or her physiological function. It is a clinician's discipline, and it directly addresses the need to transform the practice of primary care." http://www.functionalmedicine.org/about/whatis.as

    This term is used principally in the United States. It is not in use here in Canada, to my knowledge. In the US, it includes primarily MDs but also DOs, relatively fewer DCs, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and some physical therapists. There is no such designation or discipline at present within our health care system. To simply begin using this term, without adopting closely similar meaning–with the training and legislation that entails–would be extremely confusing at best. I am not suggesting not to acquire this kind of knowledge and practice base. I am merely saying not to cause confusion.

    "Complementary and Alternative Medicine" (CAM), according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

    "… is difficult [to define] because the field is very broad and constantly changing. NCCAM defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. Medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.. Conventional medicine (also called Western or allopathic medicine) is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) and D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not absolute, and specific CAM practices may, over time, become widely accepted.

    "Complementary medicine refers to use of CAM together with conventional medicine, such as using acupuncture in addition to usual care to help lessen pain. Most use of CAM by Americans is complementary. "Alternative medicine" refers to use of CAM in place of conventional medicine. Integrative medicine (also called integrated medicine) refers to a practice that combines both conventional and CAM treatments for which there is evidence of safety and effectiveness."
    http://www.functionalmedicine.org/about/whatis.as

    Functional medicine is not used in this country, as I suggested, to my knowledge, and the the term CAM has gone out of use in Canada, as far as I can see. The point here is that there are differences between these terms when they are used in the US, and I do not understand how the term "functional medicine" would be used here, how it would be defined and what would be classified under it, and the legal implications thereof. We already have naturopathic medicine, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, energy medicine, physical medicine. And the term "functional" medicine could imply the grim joke that there is also "dysfunctional" medicine!

  11. Let us hope that the new Federal government will encourage more do-it-yourself care.

    Maybe medicare should cover cats and dogs? The current system treats patients like dogs, allowing them to suffer on waiting lists etc. The least they can do is treat their dogs.

  12. Ditto to all the above. How many federal studies costing $$$$$ have been done on our system only to be shelved?
    Coming from the traditional sytem as an RN, I know without a doubt that both complementary and traditional care will promote wellness because this would promote self discipline and responsibility. The medical field has become a power and control issue over the population and I resent having to get a doctors permission every three months to renew a prescription that I will have to take for the rest of my life regardless. We are treated like we are not smart enough to know what is best for us and we have come to believe it so we over utilize the system and now it is going to break.
    It is frightening to see how the corporations have taken over and control our lives but they will say 'it's just good business'. Well business and politicians have lost their moral and ethical prospective at our expense and the consequences are that we are living longer in a very ill state of health.

  13. A doctor I know from France, who has more letters after his name than I can remember, and who has published internationally his cutting-edge traumatology research and works privately in Vancouver under his acupuncture registration, tells me that in Europe doctors go to school two years longer than MDs do here in North America. Consequently, there are entire fields of knowledge that are unknown to MDs educated here. It is upon this knowledge that his revolutionary treatment for trauma is based. But medicare and private insurance companies won't cover it, even though it is proven cost effective, much more so than any conventional treatment for trauma and neurological diseases. I know because I have read the research and seen the results in some patients.

    Regarding the point G.T. Noriega makes above, that "the corporations [pharmaceutical companies, presumably] have taken over and control our lives", apparently this is not so much the case in Europe, where this unique traumatology therapy (which is neither drug, surgery, supplement, herb, nor hands-on therapy, has a far higher rating of success and no side effects) was developed and is well known. It seems to me it would be in the patients' interest fo investigate other countries to learn what therapies are in use there. International medical doctors, both in this country and abroad, would be an excellent resource to ask about such knowledge and such therapies. Unfortunately, I believe, as was also suggested, medicare is and will be more about power and profit for conventional medical doctors and the drug companies. The kind of cutting-edge traumatology therapy I just mentioned would obviate the need for drugs and years of various therapies. According to peer-reviewed research in multiple professional journals, it has an 85% overall success rate and no side effects. No drug or manual therapy can make that statement. But, I doubt anyone from the CMA will be contacting me to find out what this procedure is!