In just a matter of days many of us will be going to the voting booth to place our votes in the next election of the President of the United States.  Prior to giving their vote of confidence to any particular candidate most will have carefully weighed the issues along with each particular candidate’s position relative to those key points.

Polls have repeatedly demonstrated that the three most important elements for a person’s happiness are family, money and health (in no particular order).  This means that issues such as morals and values, the economy and healthcare will most likely dominate the political discussions leading up to the election.

Most Americans would agree that our country is currently suffering from a healthcare crisis.  Many politicians speak of “healthcare reform”.  However, for most this discussion of healthcare reform has to do with access or insurance issues.

In all reality, we are facing a problem that extends way beyond access or health insurance.  In an article published in USA Today on July 8, 2008, titled, “CDC launches campaign to make the USA a healthier nation”, some very disturbing points are made.

Julie Gerberding is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  She has a message that she wants to convey to Americans:  “Health care isn’t only what takes place in a doctor’s office, a clinic or a hospital.  We put way too much emphasis on treating disease rather than protecting health in the first place.”

The article goes on to point out that as a result of our emphasis on treating disease rather than protecting health the U.S. does not even rank amongst the top 10 healthiest countries in the world.  In fact, the CDC ranks us 26th on one list and as low as 47th on another.  Most of us would have a hard time even trying to name 46 other countries!

In an attempt to rectify this issue Gerberding and the CDC have launched the “Healthiest Nation Campaign”.  According to the article one of the main goals of the Healthiest Nation Campaign is to keep Americans healthy by integrating health into social policies across all sectors and at all levels of government.

What is alarming during an election year is that today, only a nickel out of every medical dollar spent in the USA goes toward keeping Americans healthy.  Gerberding notes that, “Many countries have put more emphasis on health promotion than the United States.”

Gerberding points out that when people talk about investing in prevention, “typically what they’re talking about is ‘let’s invest in screening for early detection of disease.’  That’s secondary prevention.  We’re not really talking about the things we need to do before we get to the doctor’s office.”

What becomes very clear is that we seem to be confused as to what exactly health care reform means to each of us.  Gerberding points out that, “When people talk about access, they usually are thinking this person does or does not have insurance.  But access is a much more complicated issue than just insurance.”

It would seem evident that if we truly are speaking about healthcare reform the discussion must shift away from the topic of access and insurance and move towards one of health.  In order to truly reform our healthcare system we need to acquire the basic understanding that our health is our responsibility, not the responsibility of our local politician or insurance company.

Adopting a proactive approach towards your health will help you to take your healthcare issues out of the hands of your doctors, insurance company and politicians.  Regular exercise, proper nutrition and checking your nervous system regularly in order to maintain proper body function and health are all proactive attitudes that will pay long-term dividends.

Remember, “We put way too much emphasis on treating disease rather than protecting health in the first place.”