Health Care and Patient Dignity

So let’s say you are having a medical crisis. Maybe you were hit by a car, or one of your organs are failing, or you suffered a ruptured cranial aneurysm.

The last thing you will be thinking is “how are these doctors and nurses getting paid?”

Trust me.

Of course doctors and nurses must be compensated for their time and expertise. I can’t imagine anyone thinking otherwise.

The issue is that the dying (or potentially dying) patient is not the person who is in the right frame of mind to consider the welfare of the on-duty medical staff.

As I have mentioned previously, Americans are deeply conflicted over who pays for health care. Why this is, is a tangled mess of politics, ideology, and the degree to which one believes in capitalism.

In today’s Washington Post, the art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott has a piece that asks legitimate questions about form, function, and the element of human dignity in health care.

And to that end, he says that certain aspects of our health care system are rendered more daunting than they ought to be by the “inequities in health care, the industrialization of the process and the capitalist mentality that has made what should be a human right merely a consumer service.”

It’s that last bit that gets me.

Free market capitalism relies on people being in the right frame of mind to make choices between competing options. When you are potentially dying, your “right frame of mind” goes out the window.

So how it is that capitalists want us to rely on market economics for health care is, for me, unexplained.

Removing the market from the equation seems like the better option. If you disagree, I’m open to comments.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear...

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