Is Healthcare REALLY an American Crisis?
The word “crisis” is much-abused in our media-saturated world.
In America, we’ve got a jobs crisis, a housing crisis, an education crisis, a climate crisis…we’re overdosing on crises such that none of them scare us much any more.
We somehow seem to survive all these crises, after all, so what’s all the fuss about?
Of course, it depends on how close to home a given crisis hits.
If you’re out of work, then you really DO have a jobs crisis. If your home’s “under water”, that could be a crisis for you as well.
So what about our healthcare? Is it REALLY a crisis – or just more huffing and puffing?
Let’s take a clinical look at it..
Denying Our Medical Reality
Wikipedia define a crisis as “Any event that is, or expected to lead to, an unstable or dangerous situation…it is a term meaning a ‘testing time’ or an ’emergency event'”.
They further cite an analysis of a crisis as a “Process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained”. This imposes the “need for change” on the definition of crisis: “If change is not needed, the event could more accurately be described as a failure”.
Further guidance from the ever-resourceful Wikipedia:
“Most of the crises that we face are created by man…
“(Therefore) their (sic) being ‘unexpected’ depends upon man (and woman) failing to note the onset of crisis conditions…
“Some of our inability to recognize crises before they become dangerous is due to denial and other psychological responses that provide succour and protection for our emotions…
“A different set of reasons for failing to notice the onset of crises is that we allow ourselves to be ‘tricked’ into believing that we are doing something for reasons that are false…
“In other words, we are doing the wrong things for the right reasons (emphases added).”
Succour, Succor, Sucker…
Succour aside…actually, let’s not put succour aside.
In America, of course, it’s “succor”, not “succour” – but, either way, it means “help or assistance in times of difficulty”. It can also mean consolation – as one consoles victims of disease.
It’s sometimes confused with “sucker” – which gets us closer to our use of it as it applies to America’s healthcare system.
While it’s not the source for our use of the word “sucks” to describe our dysfunctional medical system, it lends reinforcement.
Our Healthcare Sucks describes the many factors that justify its use of the term.
It also notes the lack of public awareness of these dangerous conditions – this crisis – and of the “denial that provides…protection for our emotions”.
One section of the book titled “Denial’s Not a River” discusses the disconnect between our medical system’s generally good performance for acute medical conditions and its abysmal performance in treating chronic conditions despite the 75% of our medical spending they consume.
From the book: “When we have to choose between two incompatible beliefs – like knowing our medical system performs poorly yet needing to rely on it for our medical care – we generally choose the path of least resistance…
“With your life on the line, denial is a dangerous state of mind.”
The word “sucks” still offends some people despite its broad use and acceptance today. Applied to our healthcare system – on which so many depend for their medical needs and others for their livelihoods – it’s likely even more offensive.
But using it to draw attention to a largely unrecognized crisis in which “the old system can no longer be maintained” is more than justified.
Left at that, we could just call this a “failure” – as Wikipedia suggests. It’s the “need for change” that makes it a crisis.
And if you don’t think it needs to change, ask yourself how you’ll pay triple your current healthcare costs in ten years or less.
REAL Reform for a Very Real Crisis
Proponents of healthcare reform may think they’re providing this needed change – classic wishful thinking that’s refuted by all the objective evidence.
Increasing access for uninsured Americans to a healthcare system that’s been inherently corrupted by greed and deceptive medical practices may harm more than it helps.
This is the real crisis in our healthcare – the decline in medical ethics that permits these abuses to become the commonplace activities they are in today’s healthcare system in America.
The consequences of this failure in medical ethics can be devastating for individual families who often lose loved ones due to medical mistakes they’re never even told about – which is why there’s so little public uproar about the failure to remedy these failings.
A conservative estimate of the carnage this causes amounts to as many Americans dying every week from medical mistakes as died on 9/11.
Is that crisis enough for you?
Breaking the Bank
If not, consider the financial impact of all the bill-padding going on in America’s healthcare system to pad the incomes of doctors and hospitals.
As much complaining as there is about our current burden of medical costs in America, there are no solutions in sight – not healthcare reform and not its repeal – that will do much to stem the path we’re on to doubling our medical spending over the next decade or so.
If a doubling of already exorbitant medical costs isn’t crisis enough for you, consider that this will likely translate into a TRIPLING of current healthcare costs for employees and self-insured consumers as more medical costs are paid out of their own pockets.
Yet these dual threats of patient endangerment and financial exploitation aren’t even major targets of either political party – or of anyone else.
This is what happens when we force complex problems – especially crises – into simplistic ideological formulas like “expanding access” and “free markets”.
Neither of these square pegs fit into the round hole of America’s healthcare crisis – and both may make it worse.
Forget the Politics
To be fair, healthcare reform does make modest efforts to improve quality and coordination of care and to modestly stem the unsustainable growth in our medical spending. There’s about as much in it – weak and delayed as it is – as our corporatized politics in America allowed.
But it’s not really up to the task – as reflected in the tripling of your current healthcare costs that’s highly probable over the next ten years or so.
And that’s highly probable with or without health reform – so don’t rely on repealing it as some sort of solution either.
The truth is there are no real solutions coming from Washington – nor from our state legislatures, most of which have an even worse record on healthcare than the federal government.
This crisis can only be averted at the individual level – by YOU…for you and your family.
Those who keep looking to others – politicians, insurers, employers…doctors – to solve this crisis are seeking false succor.
And those who promise it are playing them for suckers.
Weigh in with your thoughts below.
This article is provided for educational and informational purposes only.
It does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied upon as such.