Here’s an excerpt from my new book, Undoctored: Why Health Care Has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor. Here, I bust many commonly-held myths about healthcare that can impair your ability to take back your life and health, undoctored. Get beyond these myths and you are on your way to embracing the strategies I discuss in the book that provide spectacular health, slenderness, and high levels of day-to-day functioning.
While not as dramatic as a TV Mythbusters episode blasting a school bus into the air with a jet engine, we can still bust a few widely held myths surrounding modern medical care. Busting such widely-held perceptions, I believe, will help you get past any reluctance or fear that the medical system is something holy and exalted that cannot be bested by everyday people.
Myth #1: Healthcare is about healing.
That may have been true many years ago, and may still be alive in hospital advertising slogans. But the ethic of healing is largely lost from modern healthcare, now subverted into the cause of increased fees and revenues, expansion of healthcare systems, the growing dominance of the pharmaceutical industry, and other factors, none of which place healing first. Healthcare is no more about healing than gambling on horseraces is about preparing for retirement. In the doctor’s mind, handing you a prescription for insulin may be his version of “healing,” but you know better—there is no healing that can come from handing out pharmaeutical Band-Aids while ignoring the causes of a health problem. Don’t bet on horses to grow your retirement account, don’t count on doctors for healing.
Myth #2: Doctors are all-knowing.
Doctors can indeed know a lot about a limited menu of issues, but any individual doctor can only master so much information. This is especially true today, as the amount of health information has grown far beyond the capacity of any single human being. Given the rapid doubling rate of medical information, the education your doctor received in medical school is obsolete by the time he/she finishes internship, the training received in internship is obsolete by the time he/she completes residency, with the cycle continuing and accelerating every year. If you ever want to test the limits of a doctor’s knowledge, ask an orthopedist about the bone health benefits of vitamin K2, or ask an oncologist about the emerging science behind ketogenic diets and tumor shrinkage, or ask a gastroenterologist about the importance of prebiotic fibers for healthy bowel flora. You will, 99% of the time, encounter complete ignorance or indifference, or your question will be dismissed as unimportant, irrelevant, or a waste of time, even though each of these questions relate to crucial aspects of health in each of their respective specialties, with the science already available to back it up.
The medical model of one doctor, one answer is woefully outdated. You will see, however, that, as we fold in the expanding wisdom of the “crowd” collected via new technology, we can harness the information that comes to us from widely disparate sources at faster and faster rates. But it is unlikely to be delivered to you through your doctor.
Myth #3: Healthcare costs are high because high quality costs money.
You will be learning later on in Undoctored that, because the healthcare system operates with misguided motivations and imperfect methods, the more healthcare a population receives, the less healthy they become—actually, the more deaths experienced, death being the ultimate example of poor health. Yet the healthcare system is designed to be increasingly costly—it is expensive because it is designed to be that way.
As the Undoctored experience unfolds in this book, you are going to find that genuine health is inexpensive and within the reach of nearly everyone—because you take charge of your health without the need for layer upon layer of skyrocketing fees, revenues, and profits. The potential cost savings are breathtaking because, if you are healthy, you don’t need the healthcare system.
Myth #4: It takes years of education and training to deal with health issues.
This used to be true . . . until the Information Age came upon us and broke all the rules. We used to think that a shelf packed with encyclopedias was the perfect example of collective human wisdom; now, it is largely viewed as a relic of a time gone by, a static and unchanging behemoth in a world of rapid change and expanding knowledge. Though unnecessarily flattering, your doctor is, in many ways, the Encylopedia Britannica of health: largely static, trying to manage an unwieldy amount of information, struggling to keep up with emerging information that changes every week. It’s not entirely your doctor’s fault; it is part of the disruptive Information Age.
We are therefore not going to try and memorize the contents of medical textbooks. We will take advantage of the new health tools coming our way, handily exceeding the knowledge of any one doctor.
Myth #5: Hospitals are havens of caring and healing, operated by people looking out for your health and safety.
It’s the 21st century and healthcare is a business. If you donate money to a hospital, it would be like donating money to Walmart: you’d be donating to a thriving business that does not need your money, though your contribution helps defray the cost of paying the CEO his multi-million dollar annual salary and perks. (With rare exceptions: there are a few hospitals that do indeed operate as charitable operations, but they are uncommon.) And, contrary to the claims of high-paid hospital CEOs, salary has no relationship to quality of care (Joynt 2014). Even though most hospitals enjoy “non-profit” tax status, it does not mean that well-positioned insiders cannot profit handsomely.
The system is rigged for profit. This is why it is so difficult to understand the mind-numbing process of hospital billing, why hospitals spend billions of dollars every year on advertising, why your orthopedist drives a Maserati with “Bone MD” on his license plate. Last I checked, these are not the emblems of charitable operations.
Get with the times. You are not trying to opt out of something akin to your local church. You are trying to avoid being pulled into the grips of an aggressive, profit-seeking system that views you as an opportunity to generate revenue, even willing to bend the rules to do so, exposing you to the dangers of modern healthcare: errors, infection by resistant bacteria, drug overprescription, deplorable food.