I just read an article that health insurers (in the US) are making record profits.
The reason for this is due to hefty premiums, but also that many people seem to postpone care, because they cannot afford the co-payments for medical expenses over the skyrocketing costs of gasoline and food. At the same time, a slow recovery is worsening the financial state of Medicare.
This is true for Europe as well. Even tough the coverage for ” sickness insurance” is more broadly available, the quality of care for services paid for by national health insurance is quickly deteriorating. On the other hand, private insurances are on the rise, heavily advertising their services for customers.
If we look around we see many, many sick people. In fact, it is hard to find anyone not suffering from an ailment or condition. Not so much in terms of accidents or other preventable diseases, but chronic conditions like hypertension, metabolic condition, depression, sleep disturbances, gastro-intestinal disorders, allergies, mental problems, addiction and cancer. All of the above are conditions related to chronic stress. And it does affect younger and older people just the same.
While some necessary economic and common sense thinking as to which healthcare services are critical to help people heal, has been on the rise, it appears that we are seeing some great inequality in the distribution of health care on both sides of the Atlantic.
Exhaustion and burn-out is as much a reality for health-care worker as it is for their patients. Everyone is feeling the pressure and the frustration, and everyone has to be aware of the inequality and limitations to what has been known as the noble art of medicine and healing. Expensive and elaborate diagnostic has replaced the the dialogue and sophisticated medication is prescribed compulsively to remedy the slightest problem – or even to prevent a believed risk.
Nobody seems to bother, that drugs do not only have the desired effect, but also create side effects, in particular when given long-term. I just read a study, that has been linking the long term use of a very popular gastritis drug with an increased risk of bone fracture. This is just an example, but it is true for any drug we take – there is always a risk-benefit to consider, and if I help my kidney, I may do so at the cost of my liver, and vice versa.
Much can be written about the state of health care, which to me is so symptomatic of the state of the world. Chronic stress means increased resistance, triggered by stressors like unacceptable conflicts, frustration, financial or social worries, aggravated by wrong foods, drugs and alcohol, as well as an unhealthy lifestyle. Chronic stress is the expression and state of unhappiness and it manifests in symptoms and diseases.
Of course, there is not only one problem or reason for this completely unnecessary crisis in healthcare – but money and financial consideration seems to be a large contributing factor. Healthcare is an important economic factor. Health care grows faster than many other sectors of the economy and thus its share of economic activity has increased over time. Healthcare providers have stake-holders and need to grow their profits. So can you see the vicious cycle ?
Everything is available. We have well equipped hospitals, doctors, therapists, healthcare workers and powerful diagnostic tools and medication. But we have an irreconcilable conflict – if healthcare is a growth factor for the economy, but at the same time a stalling economy is preventing many from getting the care they need, the focus goes automatically to higher premiums and services. A yearly supply of a ( generic version) of the aforementioned dyspepsia drug may cost in the neighborhood of ¢ 500.-, while peppermint tea cost a fraction and may not carry the increased the risk for hip-fracture a few years later. Surgery for hip-fracture averages by 26,000 $ and they are not optional.
And Medicare – or other national insurance systems – will have to pay for it, for fall and fracture this is a common condition of the elderly. Meanwhile the procedure of hip-fracture surgery contribute to the growth of the health sector.
This is just a small example to initiate a discussion on health and healing. What do we really need, what is the care that is most appropriate and how to ensure a fair distribution. I do not deny that there are many encouraging developments in terms of providing healthcare to those in need. I also do not deny, that many of the excesses will self-correct. But doesn’t it appear strange, that everyone seems to believe that money and profit have no place in spirituality, while they are more than willing to accept the same in healthcare.
Because “health” is rooted in the word ” whole”.