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U.S. Healthcare is Like the Wild, Wild West

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

“Doc what do you think about _________________? Have you heard about ____________?” (Insert latest treatment, drug, vitamin, natural supplement, or health product in blanks). I’m asked questions like these almost every day.

I’ve come to realize that current healthcare in America is, in some ways, similar to the portrayals of the old Wild West. The old American West, according to the movies, was unpredictable and dangerous and exciting and romantic—all at the same time; the old West might make all your dreams come true or might kill you.

Many health “streams” influence American healthcare. Traditional western medicine as well as many natural options and holistic disciplines all propose solutions. Confusion occurs because not only do the different streams often contradict one another, there are often contradictions within the individual streams.

I was reminded of this recently when I read an article entitled “Food Feud—Why Science Can’t Seem To Tell Us How To Eat Right” (Web MD, Nov/Dec 2019. Pp 68-73). The authors acknowledged how poorly-designed research studies, personal biases in the research studies, and/or financial incentives to sell a product have influenced the opinions of “experts” regarding whether or not certain foods are healthy.

Scientific facts are only as good as the latest and most valid studies. Facts in the current mix of healthcare seem to shift over time regarding different topics. Some examples: Are eggs healthy to eat? Is coffee good for you? Should men be screened for prostate cancer? Should women take hormone replacement after menopause?

How does a person navigate the current healthcare conundrum in the United States with its contradictions and personal interests? Valid science is a good step. Quality research studies are helpful. I do see many people find an expert or seeming authority or even a person that they feel they can trust—a person of good character—and ask for their input. Their trusted input gives the healthcare seeker more direction in their health decisions than the input of others or even scientific research.

My early Christian mentor taught me the same principle about life and interpreting Christian truths from the Word of God: Find someone who walks in integrity and godly character, preferably someone who is accountable to you in a relationship. Receive their input and allow it to carry more weight than the input of others. Wisdom over information. I think this is good advice for spiritual matters and can be helpful in navigating the wild, Wild West that is current U.S. healthcare.

“He who walks with integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9)

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