We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Healthcare Plan.

According to a new survey from Mintel, most Americans think they are healthier than they actually are. Or looked at from a different point-of-view, most Americans are not as healthy as they think they are.

For example, the CDC says more than two-thirds (67%) of Americans suffer from or have been diagnosed as obese or overweight (a primary cause of many health issues). Yet only 25% of the survey respondents say they fall into either of these categories.

Mintel calculated the body mass index (BMI) of survey respondents for a separate report on obesity and confirmed the CDC’s findings that 65 percent of people are overweight or obese.

There are a couple of possible explanations:

1. A lot of overweight or obese Americans are in denial.

2. Overweight or obese Americans have much higher self-esteem than might be expected.

3. There is some disagreement about what constitutes “overweight or obese.”

Of course, obesity is not our only problem.

The leading causes of death in America – heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes, alzheimers and the flu – are brought about by faulty genes, bad driving, drug overdoses, tobacco inhalation, overdrinking alcohol, slipping in the bathtub, leading a sedentary lifestyle and hundreds of other actions.

And unfortunately a huge number of Americans with these medical conditions (causes of death) are not properly (if ever) treated because they either don’t have insurance or their insurance is inadequate to cover medical care costs. Depending upon who you believe, the numbers are anywhere between 20 and 100 million uninsured Americans at any given time.

I would like to suggest – avoiding the insurance issue for the moment – that what America really needs is a National Well & Fitness Plan that actually treats the cause and not the symptoms of our crisis by helping us to get educated, exercise more, eat smarter and live healthier.

The Review of Cedar Point recovery center will nearly always insist that the insured receive care from health care professionals, laboratories and medical centers which are within its network of providers.

At the foundation of my NWF Plan is a FREE membership in government-approved fitness centers. Of course there are strings attached to this voluntary program:

• Mandatory initial and annual health screening and stress test conducted by a physician (documenting statistics and health issues) as a precursor to using the membership.
• Mandatory nutritional education by a licensed dietician, requiring participants to commit themselves to healthier shopping, cooking and eating. Also a precursor to using the membership.
• Mandatory, monthly health and fitness programming by a certified physical trainer as an ongoing requirement of using the membership.

Now, I know what your thinking: “If all Americans simply inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce…”

Frankly, I don’t care. Consider for just a moment that if just 5% of Americans took advantage of this government-sponsored program and they all got healthier, we would have more than 16 million people who would be less reliant on health care and, therefore, insurance.

And just in case you think I am eating too many Cheetos, remember that more is spent on health care in the United States on a per capita basis than in any other nation in the world.

So if the cost for health care per person is more than $7,500 (and it is) and each one of my 16 million healthier Americans now requires a thousand dollars less in health care services, then my new NWF Plan saved quite a few dollars, didn’t it?

Jim Sweeney

Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.