Not Surprisingly Europeans Are Healthier Than Americans

There is a great article in the LA Times today about the health of the Europeans versus Americans.

Highlights: “Costly diseases, many of them related to obesity and smoking, are more prevalent among aging Americans than their European peers and add as much as $100 billion to $150 billion a year in treatment costs to the U.S. health care tab.”

And this: “The study concludes that the best way to trim U.S. health care spending — or at least curb its rate of increase — is to put Americans on a diet and encourage other measures aimed at preventing the diseases.”

I am an ombudsman in nursing homes. I observe that a lot of people in long term care facilities got there not because age caught up with them but because they did not keep up with themselves. The notion of patient responsibility has to be part of the health care reform discussion. We have to start taking responsibility for our health.

In my global travels I do see the less stressful lives that my counterparts lead. Eight weeks of vacation time certainly helps to de-stress someone. And they use it believe me. Stopping the day to go home and have lunch is part of the culture.

The ‰ÛÏnot invented here‰Û syndrome has to stop. We can learn from other cultures. That takes not only individual responsibility but corporate responsibility as well. The same U.S.-based corporations that give their U.S. workers two weeks vacation are the same ones that adhere to cultural norms in Europe and grant six to eight weeks of vacation. Might they not learn a lesson from their European counterparts? A more satisfied, rested employee is more productive in the long term and less costly all the way around.

Health care reform – everyone’s responsibility.