The other day I wrote a blog story regarding an article written in another newspaper by Barbara Kaminsky, Chairperson of the BC Healthy Living Alliance … as well as being the CEO of the B.C. and Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society.
In that article she indicated that one third of BC’s population, who have chronic disease, take up 80 per cent of Pharmacare costs, payments to doctors, and hospital costs. Since reading her story, I have also found out that Health care costs for the average Canadian is just under $4,000/year – and that when we reach the age of 65 these costs rise steeply. If we make it to age 90, the average is $20,000 a year (for chronic disease; diabetes, respiratory, cancer and heart disease).
She went on to say that several important things need to be done by the provincial government – namely that:
• Provincial leaders should be pushing the federal government to see that children were not bombarded by media messages regarding unhealthy foods (I’ll take that to mean starchy foods, sugary cereals and snacks, fruit punch, soft drinks, etc)
• That employers in the workplace should look at ways to promote healthy lifestyles
• School should continue to explore more ways to reduce unhealthy weight in children
• And the one most likely to create controversy – that government should look at increasing taxes on sugary and unhealthy snacks.
Now some are going to say enough with the taxes, and these ideas are an intrusion into our personal life. BUT do we not already tax at least two items that are known to not be healthy – at least when consumed or used to excess. That of course would be both cigarettes and alcohol.
Are her ideas going to be popular? I doubt it, and indeed I have already had it said to me that suggestions of more government regulation, or intrusion into our lives, may be seen as offensive by some people. But again as Kaminsky indicated in this article, 80 per cent of heart disease and 50 per cent of cancer is preventable, so shouldn’t we at least explore how we can get those numbers down?
I don’t know if we need more regulation and taxes; but it’s obvious that things could and would look different in how much is going to health care – and to what areas – if cancer rates and heart disease, among other health issues, could be brought down. And so it would seem that a serious review of how we can improve our approach and application of “preventative medicine” is well worth it – not only for the health care budget, BUT for our own well-being, however long that lifetime for us may be.
By Alan Forseth, Kamloops, B.C.