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Health Care at Issue
"Have a Happy and a Healthy" is what we hear at holiday times. And, where people used to whisper when talking about dread diseases, they now speak them out loud. Good health and a long and productive life is what anyone would say we all want for ourselves. No one wants to be lingering in sever pain for long periods of time while their relatives watch in silence unable to help. Sickness is so much a part of our society.
My question is: "Is our's a Health Care System or a Sick Care System?"
What is the difference you may ask? It is where the emphasis is placed.
I contend that the way we have allowed our lives to be structured, being sick seems to be the underling though undeclared goal rather than being healthy. Or, perhaps I should say it this way: Keeping patients on the edge of illness is where the heath professionals seem to be focusing their attention rather than helping people stay healthy. Lip service is now paid, and only of late, to the idea of living healthily. Diet and nutrition was never a significant part of main stream medical training and alternative medicine was always foo-fooed as ridiculous quackery by the American Medical Association. That is still mainly true, but it has been embarrassed so often by its own medical inaccuracies and wrong-thinking that it has had to open its organizational mind to acknowledge if not to accept other approaches to wellness.
We feel the system as it is currently structured should be renamed to be a Sick care System. The financial benefits accrue to those who treat you when you are sick rather than to those who keep you healthy. The incentive is to see you stay "on the edge of illness" so that you fall off into illness periodically and wander through their office with all the attached revenues your being there will bring them. Health care, as we know it is an industry that puts the fox in charge of the hen house and assumes we will think it is right. Well it is not right and we would all be better off and most probably in better health if it were changed.
It may seem to be so far along that it could not be changed, but it could. It is merely a matter of refocusing the penalty and rewards for services rendered.
The Health Care System, as it exists today, is terrible and should either be renamed to what it truly is; i.e. a Sick Care System, where people are encouraged to live their lives with little care about being healthy and staying safe but rather putting the responsibility on the rest of society to clean up their mess once they’ve made it. For example, people involve themselves in dangerous thrill sports like skiing and expect that their existence as a vegetable on life support systems will be covered by insurance; or people smoke tobacco for decades or do drugs and expect that the government or insurance policies will care for them when they get sick or become a danger to themselves and others; or people eat to such excess and participate in no kind of exercise program to where they become morbidly obese and then expect the system to care for them as they start experiencing heart disease, diabetes and other such diseases, which society currently says is just the luck of the draw and places no responsibility on the person who has chosen to live without care for themselves and, by extension, without concern for anyone else who may later be saddled with having to take care of them.
That being the case in our country, the big money is in making sure that people stay on what might be called “the edge of illness” and then each time they fall into sickness the medical professionals start reaping the financial benefits as do the great insurance and governmental bureaucracies that keep pushing papers and transferring dollars to and from bank accounts while delivering to the people to live their lives attached to machines and dependant upon drugs instead of living lives of intelligent moderation. The medical profession has chosen to put its emphasis on circumvention of healthy life styles in favor of encouraging people to live foolishly and expect a miracle cure when they get hurt or ill.
To deal with this situation and at least make the best of what is a bad situation where people remain ignorant and are encouraged to live their lives influenced by, if not actually controlled by the current “Health Care System”, we suggest the pooling of our communal resources and pay out benefits with an emphasis on health rather than on remedies. If doctors have healthier patients, reward them for that and publicize their effectiveness. If doctors have sick patients, reduce their rewards and require retraining and publicize their failures to encourage patients to avoid availing themselves of their services. The same rewards and disincentives should be provided for patients. Stay healthy and live smart and carefully; receive accolades and nice things. Live dangerously and carelessly and get castigated publicly and be required to attend courses in self control.
We have our communal and individual values in terms of communal and individual health backwards right now and, until our value system is sufficiently moderated to where people start taking responsibility for their own actions, all of us will continue to suffer with the slippery slope of a system we have in place. Once people in general have learned that each of us is ultimately responsible for our own selves and that we are not going to be made whole by the society just because we acted like fools with no care for our fellows, only then will we be able to concentrate on worthwhile medical advances that are truly intended to help people rather than be a means of capturing the bodies and souls of patients for the monetary benefits it brings to those in the sickness industries.
September 23, 2012 - Update:
The above article and position statement has been on this web site since 2007 or before. Who ever thought we would still be running for President of the United States as long as this? We are writing this update "spurred on" - you should pardon the expression - by a front page article in the New York Times of Saturday, September 22, 2012 entitled: Breakdown: Death and disarray at America's racetracks Racing Economics Colide with Veterinarians' Oath".
An excerpt from the article that appears on the newspaper's web site states: Horse-racing veterinarians are both doctor and drugstore; the more drugs they prescribe, the more money they make.
It seems to us that horses may be more important that people. While the “Health Care” system is being debated by the presidential candidates nominated by the two major political parties in our country and while the electorate is listening to the rumblings and outright lies being bantered back and forth by these candidates, the people are figuring that their medical lives will be worse after the election no matter which of the big party candidates wins.
(We are by no means conceding defeat but with just slightly more than 40 days remaining to Election Day and with no apparent groundswell of support, it would take a miracle for us to be elected this time around).
That said, these are more than just tough times; they are also ridiculous times. But, who knows, the New York Times article about horses and the horse racing industry and how those beautiful and amazing animals are being maltreated by the very men and women who have taken the following oath may be the harbinger of the long overdue end of this upside-down situation.
Here is that oath:
“Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”
Well, the oath that medical doctors take, Hippocratic Oath, is of course something else entirely. It can be reviewed in all its various translations and interpretations on Wikipedia – just click HERE.
But, the meaning of an oath and the taking of an oath is apparently not all that is needed when money, and a lot of it, is involved. So, after reading the article about race horses and the medical professionals who are sworn to care for and about them and how things are playing out, perhaps our article about America’s Sick Care System merits rereading. Do we not deserve as good as the horses? Horses are in the limelight right now and will hopefully see some kind of remediation in the horrible way they have been treated by their doctors. Maybe what is going on with horses will help our doctors to see the writing on the wall and do something to change the sick system they and we have allowed to evolve in our wonderful country into a healthier one that allows doctors to earn a fair living by helping their patients remain healthy instead of keeping people on the edge of illness as they are currently doing.