As some of you know, I’m working on a hybrid—part memoir and part how to get us off our collective ass and provide affordable, accessible healthcare to our people. The biggest barrier is that all we read and talk about are the symptoms—not the disease.
This is like hearing an odd noise coming from under the hood of your car. You drive to your regular automotive shop and the son of the boss waits on you. You tell him about the noise and he hands you a pair of earplugs so you don’t have to listen to the noise. What you don’t know is that the boss is having surgery and his son, an adjunct instructor at Stanford, has been let go after several disgruntled students started a campaign against him on Facebook. More often than we like to think but that’s for another blog.
Now imagine being me and reading more than a half-dozen books on the state of US healthcare. In nearly every title by “experts” there are scary words—broken, sickness, unaccountable, and how “we” are paying the price. Actually, not all of us. The rich folks have all the healthcare you and I could ever hope for. That includes our corporate-owned Congress, so terrified of the word socialism they need a trigger warning.
Photo credit Bernd Klutsch
There’s a name for all of these books—every one of them—symptomology. Here’s a definition: The science that studies the symptoms of diseases. We all know and live the symptoms—too many unnecessary tests, surprise bills, medical bankruptcy, zero or limited access to exemplary care, hospital corporatization, lobbyists whoring for any cause, and let’s not forget the American Medical Association who is now greatly reduced in members but couldn’t utter the words Medicare for All or a national, single-payer system if an armed drone was circling above their annual confab. Only Physicians for a National Health Program dare to openly speak of the disease. https://pnhp.org
In not one of the many books I’ve read does the author mention our “uniquely American” free-market system that puts profits first, patients second, and the under- and uninsured (and more every day) last. The best of the bunch I’ve read is MD Marty Markary’s book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It. His fixes nibble around the corrupt and/or criminal edges of our system that he takes meticulous research and writing to describe. His fixes, no surprise, only treat symptoms and left me with his title question—Who is really paying the price? We are!
It’s a hard book to read if you have a medical appointment or procedure on the horizon such as—doctors who shouldn’t be practicing, surgeons who go right to the knife, and let’s not leave out insurers, hospitals, and big pharma who have just made a bundle off of Covid-19 and us. All of these health-related modalities know how to game any rule just so long as we don’t talk about the disease—private insurance and governmental programs who miss the mark but are judged better than nothing. Someday, for example, Congress might want to help seniors chew (dental), see (glasses), and hear (aids). They might want to reduce Medicaid’s shocking infant and maternal mortality rates and really fix the VA.
Just like at the car repair shop, the noise under the hood is not going to be corrected with earplugs. Nor is the US going to be a decent place to live—for everyone—until we stop nibbling around the edges of our rights, not privileges. Obamacare is nothing more than that raging socialist Mitt Romney’s health plan for Massachusetts when he was the governor. Now even that wimp-ass answer is under threat but is still making investors and insurers rich as kings.
I am tapped out on books by the experts who only want to talk symptoms. They are important to identify but god help me we could all recite plenty of them—the list is long.
The Answer For Now
To quote from a recent article in the October Harper’s Magazine referring to the also broken criminal justice system but applies as well to healthcare: “True change of the best kind: hearts, minds, and laws.” Hey, want to join me in Step One—working on those hearts (Congressional ones would be a good start) and our own.