National Healthcare Controversies: Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side of the Fence?
Every country faces unique challenges when it comes to healthcare. The debate on the subject is focused on three main aspects- quality, universality and affordability. But the expectations seldom match the available options-
Do you do your own research to evaluate the treatment prescribed by the physician? Or do you put 109% faith on your health plan to deliver the best?
Do you want a healthcare which works for you or the rest of 80% of the population?
We have to Ask the Important Questions
We want a healthcare that applies to everyone and delivers a healthy life to us as “individuals” and constituents of the entire society. I believe healthcare should work for a specific community and culture for a specific era. All forms of healthcare can work if they guarantee us our rights and convenience be it government sponsored, single payer, totalitarian or run by personal, open or private markets.
Physicians are not concerned who reimburses them as long as it is fair. What they do care about is their ability to provide quality care independent of the dictatorial nature of the state on the patients and doctors.
We live in an era much different from when I was a kid. Now we have an omnipresent media, stronger international presence, and awareness of cultural diversities. We have broken free from the limited knowledge given to us and learned to do our own research and form an understanding. But the current healthcare is nothing short of an abused machinery that is subjected to stay in the days of industrial revolution though every system and technology has progressed world over.
The Grass in not Greener on the Other Side!
I have seen and faced it all- I have practiced in the Europe where single payer system has been prevalent for generations; I have experienced the communist totalitarian system both as a patient and doctor and the same goes for the USA. I have been poor, felt alien and gathered wealth experiencing every side of the fence everywhere- but the grass is not always greener on the other side!
I faced a situation where I needed to undergo an urgent procedure but had to wait for 2 years! When I protested about it to my doctor, he said, “Where are you from?” Then he added that here you only get what you are given and you can’t ask for what you want! And the country was the UK!
Another time my illness required me to take a test which I never got- if I did, I had to bribe the doctor as they are not paid enough under the communist system!
Countries like Canada and UK are plagued with long waiting times and often you don’t really get what you need as the bureaucrats make the decisions. Here in the USA, I have faced all the challenges you might have gone through as a doctor or patient participating in private practice and managed care and setting up two ambulatory surgery centers. I have seen it all, felt it all and even hurt by the system.
We cannot Solve the Problems with a Fit for All Approach
We are facing a social problem where every individual has the liberty to make self determination of healthy life based on information and available resources. USA is one of the largest consumer driven markets but many argue healthcare doesn’t fall under such a market.
But healthy living is a right just as you have right to your property, resources like electricity which you need to pay for just like healthcare. Individual rights bring individual preferences into the picture like your personal food choices. In Europe, patients would ask me what they can do to relieve their knee pain. But in the USA, I have to spend considerable time to make a patient realize that they don’t need an MRI for their knee pain!
The attitude in Europe develops from the attitude of using single payer system for whatever its worth is. But here people research and form their own expectations which make universal healthcare complicated. We have long wait times and medicines being advertised but not covered. Single payer complicates things as we see some people traveling from Canada to US and from US to Mexico to get certain procedures because of limited options.
Personalized Medicine is the Way to Go
Personalized medicine cannot be implemented effectively under the universal healthcare model as single payer will lead to fewer options and increased cost. We will get a minimal and defective coverage which doesn’t really cover everything and needs us to pay higher taxes to meet the bills.
How much can you tax a healthy and rich individual for the wellbeing of others? Will the proponents of the policy use it themselves? Obviously not! Healthcare has become a business and driven by profit motive of pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, bureaucrats and other third parties.
We cannot solve our healthcare problems with solutions meant for other countries. Staying healthy is a human right which makes healthcare a personal and individual choice. We have access to all resources and technology to develop an effective health plan which is personalized and cost effective.
We need to move past the old, biased and futile solutions and aim for a quality healthcare for a better future. Grass can be green on all sides if there is a healthy relationship between patient and physician. Along with that we also need to ensure individual healthcare liberty and empowerment. We have to reform point of care and arm independent physician with all required tools and resources. Successful universal healthcare can only be achieved beyond fences, inequality and poverty when the patients are in charge of their health through personalization. #HCWB #HEALTHCAREWITHOUTBORDERS #HEALTHCAREW