Waste in the US health care system would fund all K-12 education costs in the country – currently around $600 Billion a year.
That concise fact was highlighted during the Clinton Health Matters Summit, hosted in Indian Wells at the end of January. The final panel on health and the economy, featuring President Clinton as moderator, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, and the CEOs of Humana and Tenet Health Care, was a wide ranging affair that looked at changing behavior towards a “wellness culture”.
In a nutshell, a wellness culture means keeping everyone healthy throughout their lives (and out of the hospital). The wellness intersection between good food choices, regular physical exercise, positive social support, and healthier life outcomes is pretty compelling.
The opposite health pattern is also pretty compelling (in a bad way) – high sugar fast food diets, sedentary lifestyles and social isolation bring on a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and the earlier possibility of Alzheimer’s disease.
Wellness Includes Mental Health
A breakout session during the summit also looked at mental health, and how depression costs US companies at least $23 Billion a year in employee absenteeism. Several participants proposed the concept of depression screening as a standard part of a primary care visit. An interesting idea, but it’s hard to see see how overwhelmed primary care practices would want to add additional screenings to their workload.
This breakout session did serve a greater purpose of helping to de-stigmatize mental health challenges. Recognizing and managing common issues like stress and depression can bring us to a more holistic view of a person’s health.
Kudos to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative for raising awareness of mental health.