December 8, 2023

A cure for high health insurance premiums

Soul and Richlin

Facing premium shock: What if the health care system listened to science?

Health insurance premiums increase year after year. The system is sick. The antidote is for society to invest more in maintaining health rather than simply treating diseases.

Studies show that when the body and head are connected, human health can be improved.

Photo: Manuela Jans Koch

Did you know that in the early 1980s, a scientist was able to turn back the biological clocks of eight men? With a single intervention, Ellen Langer was able to significantly improve her study participants’ dexterity, grip strength, mobility, hearing, vision, memory, and cognition.

She did not use any medication or exercise therapy. They were not specifically given a healthy diet. The scientist focused on only one factor: the head. Participants lived for five days in an environment that mimicked their surroundings 20 years ago.

This means that the psyche and subconscious were led to believe that they did not live in 1981, but in 1959. The results were amazing. In addition to improvements in motor skills, cognition, and cognition, the participants also looked younger.

Where mental aspects come into play

Since then, the Harvard scientist has published several other scientific studies investigating the relationship between the head and the body. With impressive insights. Surprisingly, this very important aspect of the relationship between mind and health does not find a proper space in our healthcare system.

Our system currently focuses on treating existing diseases rather than maintaining health and taking mental factors into account. Psychosomatics is treated so unimportantly in medical studies that even students have problems defining the term.

Ellen Langer has shown in numerous studies that even diseases such as diabetes and prostate cancer are associated with mental factors. By the way, this does not mean that patients “should blame themselves” or should simply think more “positively” – that is nonsense.

Failed medical philosophy?

Instead, Langer explains that the relationship between the head and the body receives little attention when dealing with human health. This is still the case in our healthcare system – despite the high reliability and quality of treatment.

The high bonuses spark widespread debate every year about different policy solutions. But what if out-of-control costs are not primarily due to political circumstances, but rather to a medical philosophy that may ignore important facts, scientific studies, and medical results?

Start rethinking school

Ideally, caring for healthy people is the norm. Diseases become individual cases by focusing on prevention. Health is taught in schools as naturally as mathematics, the German language, and the relationship between the head and the body. Providers are rewarded when their patients are as healthy as possible — not when they receive a large number of treatments.

Until this vision is within reach, I would like to see a health care system that does not encourage treatment of diseases and perhaps unnecessary services, but rather provides incentives for disease prevention. It takes into account that patients are individuals with complex stories that do not consist solely of physical symptoms.

The health care system must take into account that mental factors can fundamentally improve the success of treatment.

* Naomi Richlin

Naomi Reichlin studied political science, headed communications for an internationally active SME, and was vice-president of FDP Baselland from 2017 to 2020.

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