WE WILL: revive medical professions by returning them to humanitarian services.

As America has witnessed healthcare become one of the nation’s most profitable industries, we have simultaneously watched the overall health of our communities begin to fail.  This decline is caused by a lack of better, more affordable healthcare.   

In Timothy Snyder’s book titled Our Malady Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary, he writes that wealth driven access to health care “turns human concerns about health into a silent yet profound inequality that undermines democracy… [and that] if health care were available to everyone, we would be not only healthier physically but also healthier mentally.  Our lives would be less anxious and lonely because we would not be thinking that our survival depends on our relative economic and social position.  We would be profoundly more free.     

In contrast, Americans often witness a corporate-structured “profit first” system of healthcare that lacks consumer confidence.  It is a system that makes many people believe care is administered in a preferential manner to those who hold influence or wealth; a system that makes healthcare a privilege rather than a right; a system that demoralizes those who receive care and kills those who do not. 

In part our broken healthcare system is the result of the veil that darkens it.  Almost every encounter an individual has in America with the medical community includes HIPAA.  Medical institutions are frequently undergoing HIPAA audits, care providers are continuously going through HIPAA compliance training and patient’s services are dependent upon completing HIPAA consent forms.  But whose interest is HIPAA really protecting? Arguably, it is enshrined in the title of the act “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act”.  One can only assume that this legislation addressed serious deficiencies that existed when adopted in 1996.  However,

a lot has changed since the introduction of HIPAA:  The Affordable Care Act, skyrocketing medical cost and suicides.  Given correlation does not equal causation, it is still easy to make the argument that the lack of transparency or consistency in medical charges has been significantly influenced by provision of the act that make predatory billing practices possible.  Further the environment of secrecy within medicine has abetted the stigmatizing of illness and removed individuals from traditional support networks.  The administratively heavy bookkeeping demands alone have forced physicians to organize into corporate run medical centers.  These centers have broken the traditional bonds of trust forged over years of intimate connections only to replace them with a system of blacking out names, segregation according to category of illness, banding, barcoding and scanning the movement of the “patient” all the way from admission to discharge.  How far detached from an ideal system this seems when considered alongside the words of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) constitution, a document the United States was key in drafting, “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”.    

America’s frontline workers have illustrated time and time again through their heroic actions and acts of kindness that they belong to the medical community because they hold the heart of a humanitarian and subscribe to the principles of WHO’s constitution.  America’s healthcare system should be a vibrant example of their ethics and morals.  It has been in the past and can be in the future.