Not the Ducks – Suzanne Somers, Quackery and Fearmongering


Suzanne Somers joins a long line of celebrity figures who espouse the evils of universal healthcare with her rather shocking piece on the Wall Street Journal.

It’s shocking to begin with because there is on that page without any sense of irony a little advertisement that says (and this is verbatim)

“Read More From the Experts”.

Suzanne Somers is an actress. She is not a medical professional. Her ensuing post does not have even a shred of expertise. It is a shot for alternative medicine and quackery as understood by someone who has no idea about medicine and who is utilising the pulpit of celebrity to flog something that at my most charitable can be called “horse manure”. Except that horse manure is great for making the roses come up.

As a writer of 24 books mostly on health and wellness and by using my celebrity to get to the best and brightest doctors, scientists and medical professionals in the alternative and integrative health-care world, I have come to the following conclusions:

Yes because I remember Suzanne Somers in those textbooks which upon a quick google  seem to be rather vapid books on dieting as told to you by someone with enough money to eat healthy, a relatively stress free life and time and nothing better to  do than work out.

The secret to “health” for most of us is a balanced diet, portion control and exercise. Celebrities can  afford to drink liquidised kale and have coffee enemas but all that does is make you incredibly regular, gassy and waste coffee.

INFACT the only book I see on the list that is vaguely medical is a book on Cancer Quackery.

In Knockout, Suzanne Somers interviews doctors who are successfully using the most innovative cancer treatments–treatments that build up the body rather than tear it down. Somers herself has stared cancer in the face, and a decade later she has conquered her fear and has emerged confident with the path she’s chosen.

Now she shares her personal choices and outlines an array of options from doctors across the country:

EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS

  • without chemotherapy
  • without radiation
  • sometimes, even without surgery

INTEGRATIVE PROTOCOLS

  • combining standard treatments with therapies that build up the immune system

METHODS FOR MANAGING CANCER

  • outlining ways to truly live with the diease

Since prevention is the best course, Somers’ experts provide nutrition, lifestyle, and dietary supplementation options to help protect you from getting the disease in the first place. Whichever path you choose, Knockout is a must-have resource to navigate the life-and-death world of cancer and increase your odds of survival. After reading stunning testimonials from inspirational survivors using alternative treatments, you’ll be left with a feeling of empowerment and something every person who is touched by this disease needs…HOPE.

Remember dietary supplementation and nutrition may have effectively  helped contribute to the death of Steve Jobs. It certainly did him no favours.

I am afraid Somers does not rank alongside such medical greats as Guyton or Bailey or Kumar. We do not speak of her name in the hushed tones of respect that it allegedly deserves mainly because most of these “great” names of Medicine are dead and long gone and that the world of medicine has moved on. Their creations have been changed, reiterated and modified as science marches forwards.

Yet Somers guide to Cancer has not. There are no new authors, no new research and no new editions since it’s release.

This is a woman heavily entrenched in quackery which is a purely private enterprise since I don’t think governments should fund bullshit and medicine men.

First of all, let’s call affordable health care what it really is: It’s socialized medicine.

Oh noes! It’s Socialism! Except it isn’t. It’s a government insurance scheme where the price is kept low by running it at cost.

Socialism is a bogeyman for many Americans because they still think Socialism means singing Sixteen Tons while lining up rich people to bayonet them for having too many caviar parties.

Never mind the fact that public education, roads, fire departments, policemen and the emergency health system are ALL socialised medicine.

I said it before and I will say it again. If we told Americans that Communist Manifesto talked about 2 day weekends, children’s rights and education they would frog march their children into the coal mines even on Saturdays.

Socialised medicine just means you pay insurance to the government which acts like an insurance company. The important thing being that insurance companies don’t want to pay out for healthcare and governments really don’t care. And the joke is universal healthcare would SAVE the USA money. Every other nation with Universal Healthcare or “Socialised Medicine” seems to spend far less for equal if not superior health outcomes and this is without the added knock on effects of “socialised medicine”.

In the USA the vast majority of personal bankruptcy is related to medical debt. A family that manages to keep on top of mortgage and car repayments may suddenly have their finances destroyed by a simple medical issue.

Above 60% of personal bankruptcy is related to medical debt. It is responsible for missed car payments and mortgages. It is estimated that 25% of all Americans owe a medical related debt of above $4000.

And socialised medicine would prevent that. It would have helped save GM which at one point was a healthcare provider and money lender that happened to make cars. To emphasise on how idiotic the debate about healthcare is, the USA spends twice the amount of the UK when it comes to healthcare and does not provide equal outcomes in quality.

Because medicine is one of the many things that does better (like roads, education and the fire service) when socialised.

I’ve had an opportunity to watch the Canadian version of affordable health care in action with all its limitations with my Canadian husband’s family. A few years ago, I was startled to see the cover of Maclean’s, a national Canadian magazine, showing a picture of a dog on an examining table with the headline, “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You.” It went on to say that young Canadian medical students have no incentive to become doctors to humans because they can’t make any money. Instead, there is a great surge of Canadian students becoming veterinarians. That’s where the money is. A Canadian animal can have timely MRIs, surgeries and any number of tests it needs to receive quality health care.

Timely MRIs?

Well dogs and cats go on privatised healthcare so there are very little waiting times. Particularly considering that “to me” she just said that “Look at all our money, we can even give vermin an MRI scan!” (Dogs are vermin in India where they are responsible for the bulk of the world’s rabies deaths).

Honestly? You know bog standard x-rays are cheaper and tell us the same things for most. Just because you got an MRI doesn’t mean your healthcare is superior. The trick in medicine is doing the most with the least. The MRI is useful for some things but what you REALLY need are quick access to X-rays and CT Scans for 3D imaging and skilled operators to know when to use them.

MRIs… Seriously? You can tell a lot with a ultrasound that’s MUCH cheaper.

I also disagree here with Suzanne. A quick check finds out that the Average Salary in Canada is $46,000 and doctors earning $200,000 odd as an average.

A quick check shows that Canadians aren’t becoming doctors because being a doctor is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of poverty for most before you can make a living. While your friends are down the pub scoffing beers you are in effect working a full time job. I am seeing patients and the like but I am still putting in full time hours. My friends have families and started living their lives and I am in effect in a stage of arrested development where I never got to party and let my hair down.

That is what is keeping the kids out of medicine. And the other problem is Canada’s aging population which is an issue with all countries with a baby boom. There is a transient need of certain skills in doctors.

My sister-in-law had to wait two months to get a General Practitioner. During this period she spent her days in bed vomiting continuously, unable to get any food or drink down because she couldn’t get an appointment with the doctor. When she finally did, the doctor said, “Oh you don’t need me, you need a specialist.” That took another two weeks until she got a pill that corrected the problem.

I call bollocks. Shennanigans and the like.

The average wait time for a GP for non-important cases is around 4 weeks. Think things like a pap smear. Stuff that isn’t going to change on a 4 week wait. Vomitting continuously is a medical emergency and I urge you to go to an A&E. From the way you described it the 4 week wait should have killed her. If you cannot keep any “drink” down then what’s occurs is you get severe dehydration and require drips.

Now here we realise that the severity of the illness (and there are people who get dehydrated to that point. A good example are women who have hyperemesis gravidorum). A case of vomitting would have gotten you an appointment within days. The Canadian system of healthcare is aimed at severity first and inability to consume water is a big big yes to fast process in medicine.

And the ultimate point is that the loperamide or ondansetron that they gave her stops vomitting better than any amount of garlic pills or magic water.

Really, is this what we want?

All of my husband’s cousins are doctors. Several have moved to the U.S. because after their years of intensive schooling, they want to reap financial rewards. My 75-year-old Canadian girlfriend was denied treatment because she was too old. She died recently, having been given palliative care. That’s all the system would allow.

Funny? In the UK I would earn around “ONLY” double the Average salary on average or at best three times unless I have a private practice in which case that may reach the lofty heights of four times. This still works out to be a lot of money.

As for your 75 year old canadian  girlfriend? Here is the thing. She may not have been denied treatment because she was too old but because survival outcomes were pathetic and that the treatment itself may kill her.

If you are 75 and over you have an increased chance of on the table death. I am assuming this is cancer we are talking about. Now Cancer is staged and staged according to various protocols that effectively boil down to size, structure involvement, lymph nodes and metastasis. If you are 75 and have a cancer in women this is normally  breast and cervical. In these women the surgical treatment is easy to do. Breasts are after all modified sweat glands and the removal of the uterus is a procedure that is rapid and safe.

To deny a 75 year old woman these would indicate that a cancer has done something that makes it untreatable. If you have metastasised cancer then treating it is pointless. It is invasive, painful and does not improve outcomes since the horse has long bolted through the open stable door that shutting the door is utterly pointless..

Palliative care simply means chemotherapy to stem the progress of the disease and gives you a better reign on life than some doctor in the USA emptying out your life savings to produce inferior outcomes.

Affordable care will allow for pre-existing conditions. That’s the good part for retirees. But, let’s get down and dirty; the word “affordable” is a misnomer. So far, all you are hearing on the news is how everyone’s premiums are doubling and tripling and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that the whole thing is a big mess. Plus, even after Obamacare is fully implemented, there still will be tens of millions of people not covered. So what’s the point? Medical care will be degraded, the costs will skyrocket, and most frightening of all, your most intimate and personal information is now up for grabs.

No it won’t. All it is doing is producing another insurer that is government owned onto the market.

And this is what the problem with Obama Care is. It’s not socialised medicine. It’s just another insurance company. How will medical care degrade? Because they have to accept money from a government insurance company? How does that even work?

You need to tell me how precisely does accepting the same money issued by the same government from a government source, somehow affect the quality of healthcare than receiving the money from a private insurance firm?

All your most intimate and personal information is NOT up for grabs. Medical records are like fortresses and the sale and hacking of confidential medical records are crimes that can have entire insurance companies destroyed. It is NOT in their interests to break up their business for a few bucks.

And so far the only people who seem to be saying that premiums are doubling in the USA are second hand information from blogs and a single local newspaper.

No what it boils down to is RICH people paying more. One such person was earning $80,000 a year. The average in the USA is $40,000 and the complaint effectively boiled down to “I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY RICH AND UPPER MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE PAY MOAR FOR PREMIUMS TO HELP THE POOR”.

The majority of people who are poor do not pay this amount. The middle class and rich see their insurance go up often to meet basic standards of insurance. A lot of people complaining about increases were effectively “scrimping on insurance” that was forced to shape up to meet basic standards. These were people banking on “not getting sick” rather than the comprehensive healthcare coverage.

And you want to know the stupidest thing about this argument? That every socialised medical state offering equal or better healthcare to the USA spends LESS per capita on healthcare. The US Government’s spending per capita is roughly double that of the UK and this is WITH the bulk of people on private insurance because hospitals are not being run efficiently and there are so many middle men in this paradise of free economics that each takes a cut. This pushes the price up as does the idea of milking people for everything.

Why be efficient when you can be extravagant?

So, is affordable care a good thing for retirees? Perhaps over time, it might work if you don’t get too old and you don’t get too sick, and you don’t live too long. But frankly, the economic ramifications with our already swollen debt load don’t add up. Retirees who are on Medicare will suffer the consequences of 700 billions of Medicare dollars instead being used to cover the skyrocketing cost of Obamacare. In essence, less dollars for seniors, means less service. Not fair. The Boomers are going to take the “hit.” In Obamacare, “too old” has limitations of service.

It always puzzles me that the capitalists and libertarians who insist that socialised medicine kills the elderly cannot explain why socialised medical care in first world nations produces all around superior outcomes in terms of life expectancy.

Ah yes, socialised medicine is so ineffective that it fails to kill the elderly so hard they live longer.

Boomers are smart. They see the train wreck coming… most I speak with think theAffordable Care Act is a greater Ponzi scheme than that pulled off by Bernie Madoff.

I don’t think you know or understand what a Ponzi scheme is or what economics are or how healthcare works. The fact remains that Suzanne here is nothing but scaremongering and trying to get people to not sign onto a system designed to lower premiums for the poorest of people.

Every single complaint about rising premiums seems to be on right wing sites and seems to be people thinking that 80,000 odd dollars a year is the “Mean” wage of the USA.

And in the end it boils down to “Why must the rich care for the poor”. And that unfortunately is socialism. The funny joke is that the affordable healthcare act would in effect free up a wide variety of middle class business owners to not worry about healthcare for employees and regular universal healthcare has immense benefits for workforces particularly since it can save lost working days and prevent disabilities.

To argue against it is simply ignorance.

Comments

  1. smrnda says

    A few things – first, I see people get extremely upset at the prospect of any medical care being denied seniors, but where’s the outrage over younger people who have decades more of life to live not getting necessary treatments? We’ve created a system where there is socialized health care for the elderly and many see it as natural and good, thought the rest of the population is left up to chance for whether or not they get health care. If the elderly feel entitled to all these guarantees and feel everybody else should go get fucked, then screw them. Everybody should either get health care, or everybody should be left to take what the market offers them. I suspect that many boomers and whatnot just want to enjoy socialism, but later on, don’t want to pay for it when it benefits someone else.

    Anecdotal report of bad experiences under socialized medicine ignore the fact that such are far more common in the US, where rather than having to wait, many people don’t get to go at all. It’s entitled whining, mostly from wealthy people with privileges who can afford to whine.

    I suspect a reason you see few doctors is why you see few programmers. In the US, being a programmer pays as well as being a doctor, but we still get a very small % of the population studying computer science, engineering and software design because it’s extremely difficult. Med school takes a long time and working as a doctor is a very tiring job with long hours. Doctors everywhere make way higher $ than average, so I doubt just like you do that money is the factor.

    Something I learned about health care – when I was in college, I tried to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist. They told me they could get me in… in about 5 months. What I found out was that, since I had symptoms of schizophrenia, I was supposed to go see the disability office and have them set something up faster. A lot of ‘I wanted X long’ are people not knowing the right way to handle a health emergency.

    All said, if occasionally people have to wait longer so that some people can get access AT ALL, I think that’s a fair trade. Plus, socialized medicine has worked long enough elsewhere that I think it’s been proven reliable.

  2. JGC says

    If single payer health care systems whereby tax revenues are used to pay independent contractors (physicians and nurses) for work performed (delivery of health care) represent socialized medicine, any public works project (e.g., Boston’s recently completed Central Artery Project , also known as “The Big Dig”) is socialized construction.

  3. Félix Desrochers-Guérin says

    The average wait time for a GP for non-important cases is around 4 weeks. Think things like a pap smear.

    This could be read to imply that pap smears aren’t important. Maybe “non-urgent” would be a better term to use?

  4. Jenora Feuer says

    And, of course, the real reason behind the ‘Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You’ bit is that pets can be scheduled MRI scans during down time at a hospital while only the vet in attendance is present. For liability reasons, MRI scans for people require better access to emergency personnel in case something goes wrong.

    So the reason that people have longer wait times for certain equipment than animals is because the hospital needs to cover its ass as much as possible to make sure nobody can sue them for malpractice. Unless the animal you’re dealing with is a prize racehorse, they’re not going to get in as much trouble with animals.

    I would actually be rather surprised if something similar weren’t in effect at U.S. hospitals as well.

  5. Alex C. says

    > Oh noes! It’s Socialism! Except it isn’t. It’s a government insurance scheme
    > where the price is kept low by running it at cost.

    Except it is! That’s exactly what economic socialism (of the Marxist variety)
    is. Euphemistically calling it a ‘mixed-economy’ (such as in india) does not
    make it *not* Socialist.

    The main attraction of Socialism for rationalists is that it *claims* to
    promote efficiency, leading to lower overall costs. However, decades of bitter
    experience of failure in other fields (railways, telecom, electricity, you
    name it) naturally leads one to be circumspect about its efficacy in this
    instance.

    That is, only if one isn’t a red pom-pom waving blatant Socialist cheerleader
    like you.

    The many misdirections and slanders employed by your rebuttal to Ms Somers’
    rhetoric make your argument even less credible than hers (if that is even
    possible). To think that I came to this page looking for a good response to MS
    Somers. Pshaw!

    Good bye, sir, and good riddance!

  6. smrnda says

    Alex, not even going to bother to stick around long enough for someone to actually *respond?*

    On bitter failures, there’s a lot of evidence that socialized medicine works, and that market based solutions don’t. The stats on health care are well known and well documented.

    Your dig at a ‘mixed economy’ seems to falsely equate a government which provides some services funded by taxpayers to a government which has total control of all parts of the economy.

  7. says

    Wow yeah Alex, that was, frankly, hilarious.

    Private endeavours cost as much and fail far more often than government socialist projects and programs. And they are far less trustworthy than even, yes, governments.

    You obviously have a problem with the need for the label and symbol “Socialist”, as if it really matters where the humans who run things are employed. Sometimes certain things are better run privately, and definitely some things are far better run by public servants.

    When the government starts making your Doritos and your laptop and your movies, then you might have a leg to stand on when you want to complain about the dangers of socialism.

  8. dianne says

    However, decades of bitter experience of failure in other fields (railways, telecom, electricity, you name it)

    Failure? Let’s take these one at a time: Railways. Quite successful. For example, the MTA (subway system in NYC) is a socialized collection of three failed private subway systems. The city and/or state bought them and makes them work. And while I won’t claim that I’ve never been annoyed by the MTA, they’re much better than any private transportation system I’ve ever seen. Then there’s Amtrak. No, Amtrak is not a failure. Amtrak is being asked to be totally self-supporting, a demand not being placed on airplanes or private cars, each of which is only successful due to heavy government support. How many times would Chrysler have gone under without help?

    Telecom? Um…don’t have much to say here since telephone companies in the US are at least ostensibly private. Except perhaps that my mobile service carrier started as a branch of Deutsche Telekom. They’ve kind of been going downhill since going private.

    Electricity? Mine’s working fine. The local (subsidized, quasi-public) electric company gets stupid sometimes about poor people, but, thanks to their public connections, can be talked into turning the electricity back on and being reasonable about payback of the bills.

    So, what’s this failure you’re going on about?

    Oh, and medicine. I can go as geeky as you like on the numbers, but let’s just say that cancer survival is not obviously better in the US compared with other countries of similar wealth which have “socialized” medicine. The one place where the US does shine, though, is in cancer survival for older patients, that is, people older than 65. Here, the US has comparable or even, sometimes, better survival rates than Europe. The US has socialized medicine for patients older than 65.

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