By Michael Levin
America spends $3.75 trillion on healthcare every year. That’s even much more than we spend on the military. But what do we have to show for it? Not as much as we should. That level of healthcare spending might be acceptable if we got the best results, says Dr. David Karow MD, PhD, President of Human Longevity, Inc., a precision medicine and longevity company in San Diego, California, but we don’t.
“The problem is that we get sub-optimal results for the money,” Dr. Karow points out. “There are other industrialized countries that spend less on healthcare and get comparable or better outcomes. By ‘better outcomes,’ I mean that their citizens don’t die of preventable disease as often or as early as ours do. For a country as rich as ours and that spends so much on healthcare, that’s just not acceptable.”
Dr. Karow believes that America doesn’t even have a healthcare system.
“What we really have is a sick-care system,” Dr. Karow suggests. “We sit around until people get really sick. Stage IV cancer, inoperable tumors, significant heart attacks.
“Then we rush them to the hospital, where we spend a fortune trying to tack on a couple of years of life, often with diminished health and enjoyment, so they can live with their advanced state of disease. What if we were simply to prevent all that disease in the first place. Wouldn’t that make much more sense?”
Dr. Karow presides over a firm that offers what he calls “100+” longevity.
“Our goal is to get you to the point where you can make it into your 80s and 90s in such good health that you can pass the century mark and keep on going. Most people associate longevity with illness, loss of function, or sitting in a nursing home and waiting to die. What if you could be just as healthy and vibrant at 100 or 101 as you are at 41 or 51? That’s the question our entire healthcare system should be asking.”
The 100+ system has three prongs, Dr. Karow says. First is a regular deep data dive into the patient’s medical status, including a full sequencing of the genome, full body MRI, brain imaging, comprehensive blood work, and so on. Then, the data is analyzed by the physicians on the health nucleus staff, who are specifically trained to read the signs that this vast amount of data generates.
“A lot of people think their genetics are a fait accompli,” Dr. Karow says. “In fact, genetics simply point toward a possible outcome for a human being. Sometimes that genetic marker is found in a single gene, and sometimes bits of information pointing toward potential breast cancer or cardiac disease or Alzheimer’s can be located across a wide variety of genes.
“Our job is to download all that data from the human body and then put the puzzle pieces together, so that folks know what to do in order to prevent medical conditions that could reach up and kill them later on if not treated.”
The second aspect is having our physician team work closely with the patient’s data and the patient’s longevity and performance goals so as to maximize health and wellness in the present moment as well as to take steps necessary to avoid healthcare issues down the road.
The third prong is working with leading health institutions around the country to implement a treatment plan when a serious disease or condition is identified.
“Sequencing the whole genome is still a pretty expensive proposition,” Dr. Karow notes. “Costs are dropping, though, and our goal is to democratize this level of data collection and analysis, so that everyone in society is able to benefit from this technology.”
Dr. Karow compares the state of affairs in this level of health analysis to where Tesla was a few years years ago. Their original roadsters were very expensive, Dr. Karow notes. As time went on, they dropped in price, to the point where some of the newer Tesla models are comparable in price to modern conventional automobiles.
“That’s where genome testing is headed. The more companies like ours that offer testing, the more incentive there is to develop methods that knock the price down radically. It won’t be long before this kind of information is available to anyone in society.”
Dr. Karow says that the most meaningful way to knock down healthcare spending is to transform our system from a sick-care system to one that identifies and prevents serious illness years or even decades before they would otherwise become obvious.
You can treat a bladder or kidney tumor in its infancy for a small fraction of the cost of operating on a massive, malignant tumor that may kill the patient anyway.
“We are talking of creating a society of ‘previvors’—individuals who essentially would have been marked for death or morbidity by the current healthcare system simply because there’s no way of accessing the information they need in time to prevent cancer, a heart attack, memory disorders, and so on.
“Right now, the whole debate about how much we spend on medical care, who pays, and so on…all that will be a thing of the past. As the cost of providing the sort of services we provide our high-end clients today shrinks, it will be like putting a Tesla in everyone’s driveway.
“Except that instead of driving a new car, we’ll be driving healthcare costs down while at the same time tacking decades of healthy living onto the lives of every American.”