One-Fourth Of Your Medical Dollars Disappear Into A Vast Healthcare Bureaucratic Rat Hole

The gibberish that is an overpriced hospital bill would be funny if it didn’t represent the giant waste of money that cripples American healthcare. International research shows that the U.S. squanders more than $1 billion dollars a day on medical bureaucracy, the most in the world.

According to a study coordinated at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the London School of Economics, a full 25 percent of the budget at U.S. hospitals goes for bureaucracy, double what hospitals spend in any other country.

The research shows that administrative costs are lowest (about 12 percent) in Scotland and Canada, where single-payer medical systems fund hospitals in the form of universal, lump-sum budgets, similar to the way U.S. fire departments get their funding.

In the U.S., annual hospital administrative spending now tops $667 per person. In comparison, the same spending comes out to only $158 per person in Canada, $164 in Scotland, $211 in Wales, $225 in England and $325 in the Netherlands. Because of varying methods of accounting, the researchers could not make comparable monetary estimates for Germany or France. But they figure that administrative costs in Germany and France are about 40 percent less than in the U.S.

The analysis pins the U.S. waste of money on two elements of our healthcare system:

  1. We have too many health insurance companies who use different pay scales and require different types of documentations from doctors and hospitals.
  2. In the U.S. system, hospitals have an incentive to maximize profits (nonprofit institutions vie for larger surpluses) to have the money to install new equipment and continually upgrade their facilities.

“We’re squandering $150 billion each year on hospital bureaucracy,” said researcher David Himmelstein, a professor at the CUNY/Hunter College School of Public Health and lecturer at Harvard Medical School. “And $300 billion more is wasted each year on insurance companies’ overhead and the paperwork they inflict on doctors.”

The researchers believe that it will take a single-payer, government-run system to bring down these costs.

Researcher Steffie Woolhandler said: “For three decades our policy makers have pushed market-oriented strategies that have turned health care into a business. As a result, Americans now have the world’s costliest health care, and our life expectancy is years shorter than in most other wealthy nations. It’s time to admit that, when it comes to caring for sick people, markets don’t work.”

This Attitude Adjustment Protects Against Alzheimer’s

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

If you are worried about developing Alzheimer’s disease, that fear is justified. This frightening condition can wipe out your personality and memory. But scientists in Finland say you can actually lower your risk by changing your attitude toward your fellow humans.

A study of more than 1,400 seniors showed that those who were the most cynical, distrusting their friends and family to the greatest extent, were most at risk for dementia.

“These results add to the evidence that people’s view on life and personality may have an impact on their health, says study author Anna-Maija Tolppanen, of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Understanding how a personality trait like cynicism affects risk for dementia might provide us with important insights on how to reduce risks for dementia.”

The research showed that people with high levels of cynical distrust tripled their risk of dementia compared to people who were more trusting.

A Simple Way To Live Longer

Do you have a long-term goal in life? A study at Carleton University in California shows that merely picking the right purpose in life can help you live longer and healthier.

The main lesson of the research is that having a goal, almost no matter what you choose, is a health-booster.

“Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says researcher Patrick Hill. “So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”

Hill and colleague Nicholas Turiano of the University of Rochester Medical Center used data from 6,000 people in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study to analyze how having a purpose in life changed longevity. They examined people’s reported purposes in life and factored in other characteristics of their personalities.

The study shows that having a purpose in your life is good for your health at any age.

“To show that purpose predicts longer lives for younger and older adults alike is pretty interesting, and underscores the power of the construct,” Hill says.

Coffee Can Give You Better Eyesight

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

Here’s another reason to drink coffee. Research at Cornell shows that the beverage contains chlorogenic acid, a powerful antioxidant that protects the retina in the eye.

According to the Cornell scientists, coffee consists of 7 percent to 9 percent chlorogenic acid, a natural chemical that may keep your eyesight from deteriorating and prevent blindness from retinal damage, glaucoma, diabetes and aging.

The retina is on the back wall of the eye. It contains millions of cells that receive light and transfers the information to nerve cells. The retina is very metabolically active and consumes plenty of oxygen. That makes it highly vulnerable to oxidative stress.

Coffee’s chlorogenic acid can help prevent potential damage from the by-products of this oxygen consumption.

An Easy Way To Live Five Years Longer

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

An analysis of life expectancy shows that by changing one habit in your daily life, you may be able to increase your life expectancy by five years. And you can start today.

The Australian research shows that all you have to do is turn off the television set. (And no cheating by switching to a computer screen!)

The researchers looked at reported TV viewing time and death compiled in the statistics of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) and also used Australian national population and mortality figures for 2008 to put together a lifetime risk framework.

AusDiab is a database incorporating facts about the health of 11,000 people that was begun in 1999. The people in the study are older than age 25.

The researchers say their study “suggest(s) that substantial loss of life may be associated with prolonged TV viewing. While we used Australian data, the effects in other industrialized and developing countries are likely to be comparable, given the typically large amounts of time spent watching TV and similarities in disease patterns.”

The scientists estimate that Australians collectively watch almost 10 billion hours of television a year. Americans watch 250 billion hours annually.

Don’t Let Aging Destroy Your Memory

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

Reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is up to you. Research in Finland shows that something you can do twice a week helps protects your brain cells.

All you have to do, according to this study, is go for a long, vigorous walk twice a week to help your brain avoid deteriorating significantly as you age.

The researchers found that increased physical activity is particularly important if you are overweight. Having extra pounds increases your risk of dementia. But you don’t have to be a passive victim. Get moving!

The study also shows that you can start becoming more active at any age. Even if you are already a senior citizen, by exercising more you can still reduce the chance of your memory breaking down.

Do you Have The Personality To Live To Be 100?

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

What’s your outlook on living to be 90 or 100, optimistic or pessimistic? A study of people who have lived that long and beyond say your answer to that question may be a big factor in whether or not you make it to the century mark.

A study of more than 240 seniors, average age 97.6, shows that having a good sense of humor, not taking things too seriously and seeing the sunny side of life makes it more likely you will live longer.

“When I started working with centenarians, I thought we’d find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery,” says researcher Nir Barzilai. “But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up.”

The people who lived the longest were also less neurotic and more conscientious than average.

“Some evidence indicates that personality can change between the ages of 70 and 100, so we don’t know whether our centenarians have maintained their personality traits across their entire lifespans,” says Barzilai. “Nevertheless, our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically-based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity.”

Don’t Let Your Belly Shorten Your Life

This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

If you’re worried about your waistline, you better do something about it. Researchers at Columbia University have calculated the odds of your bulging belly shortening your life. The frightening conclusion: Your life’s in more serious danger than you know.

“Obesity has dramatically worse health consequences than some recent reports have led us to believe,” says researcher Ryan Masters, Ph.D., who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “We expect that obesity will be responsible for an increasing share of deaths in the United States and perhaps even lead to declines in U.S. life expectancy.”

The researchers calculate that being obese now leads to the premature deaths of one in five Americans.

In the various groups the researchers analyzed, black women ran the greatest risk of dying from obesity or from being overweight: 27 percent. The risk for white women was 21 percent. Obesity in black women is nearly twice the rate of white women.

White men did better: Only 15 percent died because of their bellies. And black men’s risk of dying from being very overweight is only 5 percent. But the researchers say black men don’t die of obesity because their lives are already shortened by tobacco-related illness, violence and other causes.

Live Longer By Avoiding This Deadly Emotion

This story originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

Your feelings can kill you. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that older people enjoy longer life expectancy if they avoid certain emotional relationships and maintain others.

The deadly emotion to avoid is loneliness along with social isolation. Feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent, according to this study. It is twice as deadly as obesity.

“Retiring to Florida to live in a warmer climate among strangers isn’t necessarily a good idea if it means you are disconnected from the people who mean the most to you,” says researcher John Cacioppo.

Cacioppo points out that solitude or physical isolation is not deadly if you don’t feel painfully isolated. So an older person living by himself won’t be fatally lonely if he’s socially engaged and has friends he sees frequently. But physical infirmities like being hard of hearing or blind adds to the risk of loneliness and isolation.

Energy Drinks + Alcohol = ‘Wide-Awake Drunkenness’

Energy drinks are supposed to give you more energy. But research shows that these beverages may imperil your health in a wide variety of ways. They are especially risky when you combine them with alcohol.

Scientists find that when you often mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, you are more likely to drink an increased amount of alcohol and develop a drinking problem. A study at the University of Maryland demonstrates that energy drinkers are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and consume more alcohol at each drinking session.

“We were able to examine if energy drink use was still associated with alcohol dependence, after controlling for risk-taking characteristics. The relationship persisted and the use of energy drinks was found to be associated with an increase in the risk of alcohol dependence,” says researcher Amelia Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

Arria’s research reinforces the concern that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to “wide-awake drunkenness.” The caffeine in energy drinks can mask the self-perception of being drunk, but doesn’t reduce your boozy impairment.

Consequently, combining energy drinks with alcohol can make you think you are less drunk than you actually are. The frequent result: You drink even more and drive drunk.

“Caffeine does not antagonize or cancel out the impairment associated with drunkenness — it merely disguises the more obvious markers of that impairment,” says Kathleen Miller, a research scientist from the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo.