THE BLOG
07/23/2014 05:53 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2014

A Simple Prescription for Lower Health Care Costs

The staggering cost of health care has been a significant economic challenge that has persisted for decades, especially in the United States. However, according to a growing group of physicians and medical practitioners, the solution is actually quite simple. When patients take responsibility for their health, many of the chronic and costly diseases that escalate our health care expenses can be prevented.

We know that eating well, exercising regularly, and staying away from tobacco products and excess alcohol will lengthen and improve our lives. In addition, they can also enable our country to save billions of dollars on health care expenses. "We have 'medical' responses to much of what ails us, but these come with a very high price tag, and the inevitable risk of side effects and complications -- which in turn push the costs higher still," said Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Lifestyle medicine is a relatively new field of physicians and healthcare providers who believe in practicing medicine in a way that addresses the habits that are the underlying root causes of many diseases. "Lifestyle medicine can provide the different paradigm of care that will enable the United States -- and the world -- to improve the health of its residents at the lowest possible cost," said Dr. Liana Lianov, former American College of Lifestyle Medicine president.

Even though the concept of healthy eating, exercise, and avoidance of substance abuse is simple, these types of behavioral changes are far from easy to implement. Countless books have been written about the need to change habits and live a healthy lifestyle. Yet it's clear just by looking at obesity rates that there is much to be done to improve the American lifestyle.

Organized through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), hundreds of these physicians will be gathering in October to share insights regarding how to help their patients improve their health by 'prescribing' behavioral changes as opposed to high cost medical treatments. These health care pioneers know that they have their work cut out for them. Reversing addictions and habits in the midst of a health system that predominately rewards doctors financially for performing high cost treatments is no easy task. However, this is a battle worth fighting -- for the sake of our health and the health of our nation.