As regular readers of this magazine will know nothing is more important in our way of thinking than preventative medicine. It’s really just another way of describing the holistic approach to health and wellbeing - maintaining good physical, spiritual and emotional health rather than waiting for things to go wrong and then requiring the medical system to come to our aid. It’s what our columns every month on natural health, naturopathy, yoga, nutrition, meditation, TCM, exercise, Ayurveda and spiritual practices are all about.

Given the parlous state of our country’s health budget, you would think the wisdom of this approach must be blatantly obvious to those responsible for administering it. As we’ve been reading recently, the cost of medicine has now become dangerously unsustainable because of the enormous burden being placed upon it.

But still, those measures that could return it to health are either being ignored or deliberately stymied - one can only wonder at the power of certain interest groups to influence decisions or maybe it’s just plain inertia. Probably a combination of both. It’s worthy of note that the number of specialists in Australia now outnumber GPs.

I’ve come to this conclusion this month after seeing the changes imposed on our private health insurance. After many years of paying top level cover, the choice given to my husband and myself was stark – either pay a premium increase of over 10% - or reduce our level of benefits. Of course, we chose the latter and I’m sure many thousands of others have made the same decision and are wondering if we’re in for more of the same next year. One of the saddest parts of the whole thing is the devaluation of holistic therapies, a mere $150 annual upper limit for a job lot of various popular modalities.

We fully intend to keep our private health cover because we’ve always believed in this approach. But what rankles us is that so much of the cost of the medical system reflected in these soaring premiums is unjustified and increasingly unjustifiable.

When people are led to believe that medicine is free and that an MRI scan or a “cover all bases” blood test or, the latest fad, a Vitamin D test are almost standard add ons to a GP visit, of course the cost becomes sky high. Not to mention yet another magic pill to pop because the others aren’t working. We probably all know someone who’s had their knee or hip replaced - maybe both just to even them out! And, I for one, am still waiting to meet someone who was happy with the result - at a cost to the health funds of $11,000 for a hip replacement device at a private hospital while the neighbouring public hospital pays $4900 for exactly the same device, according to a damning report in The Australian, “Medical Benefit Schedule costs soar out of control”, (April 23-24 2016). And the really unpalatable part is that the devices available in Australia virtually all come from the same factory in Europe at a cost of about $100.

Things will only change when we as a society accept that the public purse cannot sustain our poor diet and lifestyle decisions, and the almost inevitable medical intervention we demand as our right, for very much longer. Even though our health bureaucracy may dismiss the value of the holistic approach, a great many informed, conscious and responsible individuals know it is the only way.

As our own contribution to this important debate in Australia, we offer more solid reading on the subject this month from our team of established and new writers. We believe the message is so important that anything you can do to help spread the message would be a great help.

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.