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 in 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 Important Questions.
We want healthcare that applies to everyone and delivers a healthy life to us as “individuals” and society's constituents. I believe healthcare should work for a specific community and culture for one particular 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 about who reimburses them as long as it is fair. They do care about 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, a more substantial international presence, and awareness of cultural diversities. We have broken free from the limited knowledge given to us and learned to research and form an understanding. But the current healthcare is nothing short of abused machinery that is subjected to stay in the days of the industrial revolution through every system, and technology has progressed the world over.
The Grass is Not Greener on the Other Side!
I have seen and faced it all. I have practiced in Europe, where the single-payer system has been prevalent for generations; I have experienced the communist totalitarian system both as a patient and doctor. 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 two years! When I protested about it to my doctor, he said, “Where are you from?” Then he added that you only get what you are given here, 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 I never got- if I did, I had to bribe the doctor as they were not paid enough under the communist system!
Countries like Canada and UK are plagued with long waiting times, and often you don’t 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 been hurt by the system.
We Cannot Solve the Problems with a Fit for All Approach.
We face a social problem where every individual can choose a healthy life based on the information and available resources. The USA is one of the most extensive consumer-driven markets, but many argue healthcare doesn’t fall under such a market.
But healthy living is a right just as you have the right to your property, resources like electricity 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 mindset of using the single-payer system for whatever its worth is. But here, people research and form their 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 traveling from Canada to the US and from the US to Mexico to get specific 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 costs. We will get minimal and defective coverage which doesn’t cover everything and needs us to pay higher taxes to meet the bills.
How much can you tax a healthy and wealthy individual for the well-being of others? Will the proponents of the policy use it themselves? Not! Healthcare has become a business and driven by the 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 that 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 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 the point of care and independent arm physicians 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.