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Rising stress levels and health care costs demonstrate need for natural, preventive approach
by Robert E. Herron, PhD
American Journal of Health Promotion Translate This Article
12 September 2011
A new study published last week in the American Journal of Health Promotion (Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 56-60) found that people with consistently high health care costs experienced a 28 percent cumulative decrease in physician fees after an average of five years practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique compared with their baseline.
'This article has major policy significance for saving Medicare and Medicaid [U.S. government-funded health care programs for the elderly] without cutting benefits or raising taxes,' said study author Robert E. Herron, PhD.
Please see Part I of this article.
Background material released on publication of the study explains that Americans are suffering from soaring levels of chronic stress due to economic problems, home foreclosures, high unemployment and underemployment, and lack of health insurance, which contributes to numerous health problems they cannot afford to treat.
The Huffington Post reported in May that U.S. health care costs per family more than doubled in nine years. Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, released the results of their 2011 Milliman Medical Index, which measures the total cost of health care for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider organization (PPO). The 2011 MMI cost is $19,393, an increase of 7.3% over 2010, which is the lowest annual rate of increase in more than a decade.
Yet even though the rate of increase is the lowest in recent memory, the increase in total dollars—$1,319 in 2011—is the highest in the history of this study. Even with a historically low annual rate of increase, health care costs for American families reached $19,393 in 2011. In 2010, the average employee paid $8,008 for his family's health care, up from $3,634 in 2002.*
Other studies on the Transcendental Meditation program, including randomized clinical trials, indicate the TM technique can improve physical and mental health, decrease tobacco use, reduce substance abuse, and decrease other unhealthy habits and risk factors that lead to chronic disease and costly treatments.
At a time when health care costs are continuing to rise, the studies of Herron and his colleagues demonstrate that a natural preventative approach could help curb rising health care costs.
''Almost no intervention for cost containment has decreased medical expenditures by 28% over 5 years from a baseline,'' said Herron. ''Now, it may be possible to rescue Medicare and Medicaid by adding coverage for learning the Transcendental Meditation technique.''
Benjamin Franklin once said: ''An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'' Another way of saying it today would be, ''An ounce of prevention costs considerably less than a pound of cure!''
The Transcendental Meditation Program
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique is an effortless procedure practiced 10-20 minutes twice a day sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
TM is a simple, natural mind-body practice that does not involve changes in personal beliefs, philosophy or lifestyle.
Over 350 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique confirm a wide range of benefits for mind, body and behavior.
Several studies have compared the effects of different meditation practices and found that Transcendental Meditation provides deeper rest and relaxation, and is more effective at reducing anxiety, depression and hypertension than other forms of meditation and relaxation. In addition, no other meditation practice shows the widespread coherence throughout all areas of the brain that is seen with Transcendental Meditation.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in the United States by a non-profit, educational organization.
More information about Transcendental Meditation can be obtained by calling +1 888-LEARN-TM [toll-free in the U.S.] or visiting www.tm.org or www.AskTheDoctors.com.
* Click here to view and download the complete 2011 Milliman Medical Index.
© Copyright 2011 AAAS
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