Healthcare in America is unique when compared to other advanced industrialized countries. America does not have a uniform health system or universal healthcare coverage. In America, the healthcare industry is considered one of the fastest growing industries in the nation.
Why is healthcare an industry?
The dictionary defines “industry” as “people or companies engaged in a particular kind of commercial enterprise.” Our health and well-being have substantial important on our day-to-day lives and our survival as a species. Why is healthcare in America considered an industry, something of economical value, rather than being considered a basic human need for survival that a uniform system should fund.
Why is it that only in America our health, the instruments and services needed to promote our health, is focused heavily on its commercial value and profitability? In America, the healthcare industry is one of the most profitable and fastest growing industries. Its existence and increasing costs are perpetuated by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. These are for-profit companies, focusing heavily on driving sales, growth, and revenue. The foundation of our healthcare system should not be an economic or financial driver.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international forum consisting of 34 member countries to compare and discuss government policies to promote and improve the economic and social well-being of people worldwide. The U.S. spends considerably more on healthcare than any other OECD country. In 2013, the U.S. spent 16.4 percent of its GDP on healthcare, which well exceeded the average of 8.9 percent per person for the OECD average.
By this point in time, companies in the healthcare industry have become so powerful and influential that the goal no longer focuses on the patient’s treatment. Instead, companies focus on ways to streamline the process and increase profitability.
Somewhere in the midst of this industry’s emergence and the progression of healthcare, the Hippocratic Oath was buried and forgotten.
The Oath has been replaced with increasingly unaffordable costs of basic care, insurance companies creating a more complex system of health delivery and delaying efficient and timely care, underpaid and overworked healthcare professionals, and physicians who have seemingly forgotten the humanity of their patients. In today’s progressive world, there are still hospital units that refer to struggling patients as numbers rather than their names. There are doctors that never care to have a conversation with their patient or figure out what else could be wrong. There are mental health professionals that never even look their patients in the eye.
Patients have become just another appointment, another hour spent, another dollar earned. Physicians no longer seem concerned with actually fixing problems but rather to pawn patients off to a different specialist or physician who can run more tests, prescribe more medications, and continue draining patients of their finances.
Physicians seem to have forgotten to view patients as whole individuals and not as a list of fragmented symptoms or a limited set of data. Time is a patient’s biggest enemy. In order to maximize their profits, hospitals often limit a physician’s face time with patients. Oftentimes, a patient will never get the opportunity to voice the entirety of their problems or a chance to fully cover the severity of their pain.
No longer is quality of care a priority. If it is, it is reserved for those who can afford to pay. People in higher socioeconomic classes, older patients perhaps with straightforward physical ailments, or the most compliant patients who take physician advice as an absolute, not to be questioned. Most physicians, at least the older generations, are accustomed to patients who listen to their advice and don’t question it. But when a physician fails to give you a solution to your problem or a treatment you should follow, it leaves the patient in an uncomfortable position. Physicians should work with their patients to find causes and search for answers and keep persisting until a solution is found. Nurses should be kind and supportive and offer a shoulder to cry on to any patient that crosses their path.
The main objective of a doctor’s visit should not be to spend as little time with the patient as possible. Or to cover as many appointments as possible. The occupations of healthcare professionals is founded upon making patients feel better. Even if a same day cure cannot be offered, healthcare professionals can still provide patients with a tissue, an encouraging statement, or a treatment plan. If nothing else, patients are people in pain, who deserve to feel like their doctor’s or nurse’s priority is to help them. Every patient deserves compassion. Not a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, whose main goal is to collect a check at the end of the pay period.