I work in the American healthcare (AHC) system. I see patients. I dispense health related advice. I order screening tests. I prescribe medicines and treatments.
And I partake of none of these things for myself on a regular basis. In fact, I avoid the AHC system for my own needs as much as possible. I even abstained from care when I broke my ankle a couple of years ago while in-between jobs and temporarily without health insurance (long story). Rather than invite all sorts of high charges and possibly unnecessary tests and over-treatment (like surgery), I treated it at home myself, successfully. I’m not advising anyone else to take this route, and I would absolutely seek more care if I had any health conditions that demanded it, but gratefully, I do not. This is just me sharing my own story and the extremes to which I am personally willing to go!
Why this deep aversion? Simple: Lack of trust. I do not believe AHC as a system has our best interests as patients at heart. Many of the providers working within this system do care, but their hands are largely tied by AHC. As an industry, AHC doesn’t really work to make us healthier or allow providers to do the best job they can for us. Like it or not, and they do not advertise this, but AHC is in it for the money. And the money is in fixing us when we are “broken” (or perceived to be). Similarly, insurance companies don’t care about us or our wellbeing. They care about their profits, which rarely translates into approving more care. There are sooo many examples where insurance companies could have done the right thing with sick, desperate people and did not. For money. Drug companies are no better and scam us with shoddy research then convince us through tv ads and such that we need expensive drugs to be ok. Then they jack up the prices once we are hooked. I know I sound like a cynical crackpot, but this is just so hard to witness! I think people go into healthcare for altruistic reasons for the most part, and consumers have faith that they will receive good care, but the system stymies all of us.
Let us remember that living, aging and even dying are not pathological. Bodies change, parts wear out and sometimes break. The best way to be healthy is to take care of ourselves and prevent/reverse illnesses that require ongoing care whenever possible. How do you keep your car running well? Don’t drive like a maniac, get regular maintenance, use proper fuel. Same with bodies. The AHC system is like the oily mechanic who price gouges when you are broken down or sells you all sorts of parts and questionable services by preying on your ignorance and your fears. This is not ethical. This is not healthcare. Our best defense here is a good offense: take care of ourselves better! This won’t always work, but there are things we can do to fix ourselves and keep AHC out of our lives and pockets! Maybe I’m not a hypocrite, maybe I am a crackpot…