There Has To Be A Better Way

Isn’t there something inherently disturbing about a headline that reports California hospitals are losing $14 billion? One could argue that this is the Achilles heel of the American system: healthcare that’s based on cash flow. One could also argue that quality healthcare isn’t a commodity to be sold and traded and inventoried. It’s not a widget or an automobile.

It is difficult not to assume that the bottom line looms as large as any consideration given to patient care. It shouldn’t have to be a balancing act! Quality of care gets lost in efforts to stay PROFITABLE?! My word. This whole damned system is ill-conceived, nothing but corner cutting, compromising health and well-being because of out-sized concerns over a facility’s continued viability.

Which means that people get lost in the shuffle, both staff and patients. They become expendable, somehow. Statistics, as in, “Well, we of course need to minimize the detrimental effects on peoples’ lives, but a few casualties along the way are better than many casualties.” It’s all in the numbers. People as numbers. Not people as people, most with names and others who love them, and who, if asked, would probably prefer not to become statistical footnotes, the sad consequences of financial triage, of methods and a system based on tenuous sustainability, on the need to stay afloat. To either find the money somewhere, somehow, or die.

A better healthcare system might be one where no one has to worry about survival of the fittest. Where quality healthcare is a priority across the industry, a given, accessible by all, funded with a steady stream of dollars from the government, and not based on capricious fee structures and insurance premiums and competition. Basically receiving good care only if you can afford it.

That last qualification should make peoples’ ears burn, and just plain piss all of us off. But it won’t. Because it turns out a person’s health and well-being are commodities, after all. No different than toilet paper and hand sanitizer, or a nice New York strip steak.

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