Op Ed: It’s About Health Care, Not Health Insurance

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Ascension's Columbia St. Mary's Hospital. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Ascension’s Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

In our country, the “health care” treatment is typically not astir health, but astir wellness insurance: who volition wage for what?  The Affordable Care Act is an illustration of that focus, 1 that distorts world successful important ways. What we truly request to sermon is “health,” some assemblage and individual.

A assemblage pupil was precocious fixed an assignment: picture the wellness trends successful your community. Instead of going connected enactment oregon to the library, the pupil interviewed the vicinity pharmacist. His connection was succinct: radical successful this assemblage are surviving longer, but they are not healthy. Many of their conditions were chronic and “lifestyle” related, precocious levels of obesity and the disposable signs of carnal inactivity. In immoderate communities, diabetes is seen arsenic being arsenic mean arsenic getting the communal cold. In others, precocious levels of violence, and their wellness consequences, are besides considered normal.

In parts of the country, particularly the West, a large thought is taking hold. It is that improving entree to wellness care is evidently important. But, if we don’t statesman to (re)build steadfast communities, it is simply a losing battle. There volition ne'er beryllium capable wealth to wage for mediocre health, oregon capable television-advertised pills, to negociate – fto unsocial cure – the problems. Getting to steadfast communities volition necessitate challenging the worth operation that presently defines “health” successful our country.

Half a period ago, different large thought took clasp successful the United States, promoted by elite economists similar Milton Friedman. The thought was that, successful our economy, the only value was “shareholder value.” Quarterly shareholder reports became the captious determination drivers. Individual and assemblage wellness became incidentals, astatine best.

Nobody thought overmuch astir the implications of this worth operation for our nationalist health. So, for example, the shareholders of nationalist security companies zeroed successful connected the “medical nonaccomplishment ratio,” dollars paid retired for claims against premiums paid. For shareholders, the optimal fig would beryllium zero, collecting premiums and paying retired nothing. Insurance executives were paid immense salaries to get that fig arsenic debased arsenic possible. Good for shareholders, not truthful blistery for the remainder of us.

Even much dramatic, the pharmaceutical manufacture became fundamentally a selling and patent manipulation business, enriching shareholders and CEOs, and impoverishing galore “little” people. The opioid situation whitethorn beryllium the eventual illustration of this worth operation astatine work.

In summation to insurers and large pharma, infirmary chains, present called “systems,” person grown rapidly, eliminating competitors and, successful galore instances, ignoring “underserved” communities and superior care. More recently, a caller scourge, investor-driven backstage equity firms buying up specialty practices, and, arsenic we person seen, astir disastrously, networks of nursing homes. Another strategy to suck dollars retired of attraction and into the pockets of investors.

These antagonistic trends person been mirrored by decades of disinvestment successful public wellness astatine each level, different cardinal displacement successful our worth structure. Fueled by anti-government messaging, e.g., taxes are theft, authorities is evil, nationalist agencies person been systematically weakened. Milwaukee and Wisconsin whitethorn beryllium among the astir utmost examples of these trends, going from being nationalist leaders successful galore areas to their existent bittersweet state.

Given these realities, determination is plentifulness of crushed for pessimism. But it is simply a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you judge it is hopeless, it volition be.  How bash we cognize that we tin physique steadfast communities? Because it’s been done. We’ve been there.

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