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Sick-Care vs. Healthcare: Reframing the Discussion Around Medicine

Genexa Genexa 2018-08-29 16:16:00 -0700


By Kara Dowdall, BS, MS

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard a lot of talk about the United States’ healthcare system. Whatever your political views on the matter, there’s one thing that we should all get straight: The United States has a sick-care system, not a health care system.  

What does that mean? Well, instead of focusing on preventative care and maintaining good health, most of the American medical community focuses on reactionary care. That means doctors and healthcare professionals often treat diseases and conditions after they have developed, when they could have been prevented in the first place through proper preventative actions. 

Don’t believe me? Check out these key statistics:

  • Roughly 75% of healthcare spending goes to treating diseases that were entirely preventable! (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
  • American healthcare costs are rising so rapidly that they could reach $4.2 trillion annually – equal to roughly 20% of our gross domestic product – within ten years. (Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
  • The average per capita cost of healthcare in the developed world is $3,000. In the United States, it’s around $8,000. (Source: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development)
  • If trends continue through 2020, up to 1/5 of healthcare spending, or up to $1 trillion annually, will go to treating the consequences of obesity – another preventable condition. (Source: Rand)
  • One out of every three people in the United States is pre-diabetic. (Source: Centers for Disease Control) 

However, reactionary healthcare, or sick-care, doesn’t have to be the norm. I’m proud to be part of a whole new medical approach called functional medicine. Functional medicine focuses on prevention, lifestyle changes, eating real nutritious food, disease reversal and getting to the root cause of disease. Functional medicine determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.

For instance, the root cause of many autoimmune disorders is chronic inflammation, which is 100% treatable by making specific lifestyle choices. There are many sources of chronic inflammation and diet and nutrition remains one of the top sources of chronic inflammation. By improving your diet, among other lifestyle changes, you can prevent or even reverse an autoimmune disorder, without spending tens of thousands of dollars on treatment.

By using the functional medicine model for medical practice, we can phase out the United States’ sick-care model. We can start focusing on preventing disease, instead of simply treating the downstream symptoms. This will ensure a healthier future for the whole country.   

Kara Dowdall is a Functional Medicine Practitioner and Certified Integrative Health Coach. As part of her practice, she helps individuals adopt lifestyle and clinical recommendations into their lives with the goal of improving health outcomes. Find out more about her practice at


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