By Mike Nutini
Healthcare is a subject at the forefront of division in this country. Should healthcare be fully privatized or subsidized/operated by the government? Who should pay for what? What will insurers charge? What services will be covered and at what cost to individuals? The questions go on.
To many, we need to find the answer fast because the current system is financially bankrupting Americans. When we think about healthcare and any issues surrounding it, the main cause for our unhappiness with the current system can usually be traced back to money. The cost of insurance, the cost of prescriptions, and the cost of having no insurance at all. But I think we are missing something pretty major in our quest for better and more affordable healthcare.
The question is, does our healthcare system prioritize our health? In many aspects that answer is no. Throughout the days, weeks, and years of living the life of an average American working-class simpleton, one particular conversation keeps coming up with my co-workers and friends about what health care in the United States really does for us, and the general consensus seems to be something many people may not consider. It’s a cover-up.
If you sit back and think about health issues that you or a loved one has endured and reflect on the outcome of your treatment, I think you will realize that the symptoms were simply covered up by way of home remedies, pharmaceuticals or surgery until those maladies became tolerable or if you were lucky, went away.
But is that what healthcare is supposed to be?
If you have pain you will get pills that help stop you from feeling pain… so that you can keep doing what is causing you pain, without feeling the pain, which will make what’s hurting you worse until the pain meds don’t quite relieve it anymore and then, more than likely, you’ll require more drastically treatment… like surgery… because what was causing you pain can no longer be healed or fixed naturally and options like surgery are the only way to fix it. This will inevitably lead you to need pain medication for the pain the surgery has caused you in your recovery. Great you are cured!
I constantly hear from co-workers, particularly in trades, about knee problems or back problems, etc. The story usually sounds the same – “My back was bothering me,” or “my knee was bothering me. So I went to the doctor and they gave me a cortisone shot and went back to work. And a month later the pain came back so I got another shot.”
Over and over and over again cortisone and pain pills until… “YAY! You now need surgery! YES!”
From repeatedly pulled muscles to spinal problems, the treatment is the same. Cover up the pain until it’s so bad you need an operation to correct it. This can’t be right. But our reality is that the approach to health and pain is always the same. Cover it up. Cover up the pain, cover up the symptoms, and ignore what’s actually wrong until you can’t ignore it anymore.
I once had a conversation with a chiropractor who explained to me that if life were a line graph it would look relatively straight for most of our lives and then that line would rapidly drop right around the moment of our death. And then he explained that in America, that line is mostly straight until we are around 40. But instead of holding steady as it should, it begins to dip more and more and more for decades until we eventually pass on. I realized exactly what the problem was. It’s us.
Americans have become accustomed to our healthcare system which says to “live freely. don’t change anything, keep eating what you want and we, the healthcare system, will cover up your issues for you so there’s no need to change.”
If you have digestion problems or gut problems they focus on pills that help IBS or Crohn’s symptoms. You don’t hear about how your diet could be causing this or why your body is behaving this way. Just another pill to add to the pillbox for the rest of your life! We live a life of gradual decline from earlier ages than most of the developed world. We continue the cycle: pain, doctor, prescription, repeat. We don’t cure anything anymore. We provide lifelong medications. Life-long band-aids instead of exploring why a condition occurred to begin with. Our elderly citizens usually ingest a buffet of pills morning, noon, and night and never get better.
Instead of ripping each other apart over who should pay for healthcare or reform healthcare insurance or deal with how expensive prescriptions are, we should be asking why our healthcare fix anything.
Millions of Americans suffer chronic pain for decades before they get corrective surgery. Quality of life in America is down, life expectancy is down and we pay more than any other nation in the world for it. Is the answer really as simple as money? Have we lost our morality on health? Is a patient with chronic illness simply seen as a customer for life by industry executives? After all, pills for life means money for life. A patient cured is a customer lost. And that’s bad business.
Can we break this cycle? This band-aid approach?
It all comes full circle. Our healthcare system is constantly overwhelmed because people are never cured. Their conditions are prolonged to keep the pills coming and the dollars flowing. You make one appointment. That leads to another appointment in a month and in that appointment, you are referred to a specialist. And in seeing that specialist, you earn yourself six more appointments over the course of a year. And then cumulatively, all those appointments, all that time lost and energy spent, leads you to a surgeon who tells you “we shouldn’t do anything yet.” And so you are back to pills and band-aids until you can’t live your life unimpeded, and then maybe, just maybe, they will fix you.
We are a sedated nation in pain, dependent on prescriptions. Our bodies are designed to heal, but healing doesn’t drive profit margins.
So before we continue this argument over whether a healthcare system should be public or private, or something in between, we should first be demanding and fighting for a healthcare system that will fight for our health.
Image sourced from policymed.com