The Burden and Cost of Autoimmune Disease
Once upon a time, I thought that being well was a stroke of luck and a never-ending gamble. The idea of what life would be like without any signs of my autoimmune disorder seemed like an imaginary fantasy buried in a deep disguise. My life was a stubborn case of duality, happy on the outside, sick and sad on the inside all while being intertwined and tangled with fears, and distorted beliefs of the super life I thought I would never be able to live.
For many years, I hustled for my health, big time. I did the work, and fully experienced the burden and cost of autoimmune disease. I followed the clues and the results have paid off — my bank of health, is well, very healthy (*pun intended).
I believe that the true definition of being healthy is more than just the absence of disease. It is more than just being able to walk around and function, to eat, to think and get through the day, the month, the year.
I observe in today’s modern world, there are many people walking around as corpses, dead on the inside, not truly alive, soulless, lifeless.
One of the major contributions to this reality is our pre-programmed “reactive” society.
Many of us have been raised that we don’t need to do anything about the state of our health until a symptom occurs and then that’s the cue for us to become proactive and change how we live. But I have found in my own life that we must be proactive in order to keep our bank account of health brimming.
This is the absolute key to avoiding the long-term cost of autoimmune disease.
The physical difference between sickness and wellness is worlds apart, but there is also a very big financial difference.
What many people who have an autoimmune disorder don’t realise is that choosing to stay well with a change of lifestyle habits can actually, in the long term, save them money. A lot of money.
After all, we vote with our cash, and I would prefer to pay the farmer instead of the doctor any day, hands down.
Recently, I have been itching to understand the financial costs of autoimmune disorders and how these costs can be significantly decreased. How? By shifting from reactive to proactive, and understanding in depth what is actually happening in our bodies when an autoimmune disorder arises.
Now I am a very detailed oriented person. I like to know everything about everything and leave no stone unturned — so in favour to you, I have compiled some of the key issues around burden and cost for us to start thinking about and taking action on.
(I found a lot of the information below in a one of a kind 2011 report from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH).)
PROBLEM # 1 – The Cost to Society, Not Just The Patient
“The burden of a human disease should be counted not only in terms of dollars spent on health care for people directly affected, but as the total cost to society.” ~ National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Progress in Autoimmune Disease Research” Report
“When AARDA was founded in 1992, there were roughly 67 known autoimmune diseases and another 20 strongly suspected of being autoimmune in nature. Yet, the term ‘autoimmune’ was unheard of and a virtual void existed in terms of any type of national focus or understanding that these diseases constituted a significant disease category,” ~ Virginia T. Ladd, Executive Director, AARDA
The above quotes sum up a problem I had never really considered on how this epidemic is affecting us financially on global scale, especially when it comes to our annual tax.
More than a decade has passed and the autoimmune spectrum encompasses more than 100 different types of diseases including, just to name a few, type-1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, crohns disease and lupus, which results in 100 billion in direct healthcare costs annually.
However, just to break it down, the report identified that seven of the most major and most common autoimmune diseases (crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and scleroderma) on their own, are responsible for an annual $50 billion. The cost of autoimmune disease is staggering and obviously, there is a much bigger financial impact going on here that is not widely talked about in the mainstream.
It is evident that the impacts of our modern lifestyle can backfire if we are not smart in choosing smart daily lifestyle decisions based on the framework of My Super Life Formula.
PROBLEM # 2 – The Current System is Broken for Autoimmune Patients
“Medical practitioners do not recognize autoimmune diseases as a disease category. Medical history questionnaires do not inquire whether patients have a family history of autoimmune diseases. There are very few standardized tests for many of the 80-100 autoimmune diseases. Medical education provides minimal training about autoimmune diseases.” ~ American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
“Some progress has been made. For example, the United States Congress has recognized autoimmune diseases as a disease category; and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased research funding for autoimmune diseases from $587 million in 2007 to $879 million in 2009” ~ American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
This is a big one, but in my eyes, a delayed response to an issue that is going to need more than just recognition through being a certified “disease category”. It is great to see that the funding has been increased, but I believe there is no point funding a system that is broken for the mass chronic autoimmune disease we are experiencing. This is exactly where I see the importance of building healthcare from scratch. As I have just completed the 2015 Evolution of Medicine Summit, I understand that our current medical system in western countries of the US, UK, Europe, Australia was built around acute disease in the early 1900’s and was never designed to effectively deal with the mass cost burden of autoimmune disease.
Part of this health crisis we are in the midst of is partially due to the fact that the system is designed for acute issues and operates in a “reactive” manner — e.g. a symptom appears in your body, your healthcare provider reacts usually in the form of a drug which suppresses the system. This can be beneficial for the short term but it is definitely not a safe long term proactive approach.
The solution here is that we need a new system that is built around positive lifestyle choices and educates and empowers people how to not wait for the symptoms before they begin to become proactive in their health care.
PROBLEM # 3 – Public Education and Awareness Surrounding This Issue
“According to an AARDA study, fewer than 13 percent of Americans can name an autoimmune disease.” ~ American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
This issue is one of my main catalysts, intentions and motivations for creating this website. I have experienced this issue in my own life, for so many years, I remember having to always explain myself to people as they often had no idea what crohns or ulcerative colitis was – and the subject itself is not really a table topic as the details don’t really merge well with eating time.
The impact from the lack of education not only contributed to a major feeling of loneliness, but a fear of not being understood as well as an isolation from the rest of society.
Now that we have hit a milestone of autoimmune disease being a recognised and accepted disease category, it is the perfect time to be putting some of the funding into serving education and awareness around what these diseases and disorders are, how they impact the entire body (not just one organ) and educate people on how to implicate positive lifestyle changes and choices through the Super Life Formula.
PROBLEM # 4 – Many Effective and Reliable Diagnostic Tests Are Not Covered By Health Insurance, Let Alone Exist
“For many of the 100+ autoimmune diseases, no reliable and effective diagnostic tests exist.” ~ American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)
This is true to a point. There are so many incredible tests out there that tell us a great deal of information about the details of our DNA through a simple stool analysis.
However, many of these tests are not covered by health insurance which forces people to pay out of pocket or not have access to this information at all. I have experienced this fault in the current system first hand partially to the fact that many of the tests I have completed over the years have been sent overseas for analysis. In the future, I would love to see an “overseas testing, appointments and expenses” brought in as a health insurance category so people still have the option to claim their medical expenses, regardless of the country.
As technology is expanding everyday, I encourage the medical industry to keep up and start operating as a global system supporting worldwide testing facilities rather than just giving people access to what is in their country.
I may have only explored four main problems, and I am sure there are many more that need addressing. So I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. As this is only the beginning of my exploration of this topic, I think this is a good start to ease us into these silent but critical issues.
So tell me, what actions are you taking to be proactive with your bank account of health? Please post your comments below.
Peace, Love, Health
REFERENCES FOR THIS BLOG
For the full Autoimmune Related Diseases Association report, click here:
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