Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make Healthcare Accessible

YOU have the fundamental right to see a doctor regardless of social or financial standing.

It breaks my heart to hear about single mothers who sacrifice their health to provide for their children:

  • I know an amazing single mother who was struggling to get by. She prayed that she wouldn't get into an accident because healthcare was not an option. She had to take care of her son. That money had to go toward making sure he was covered... nevermind her own health.
  • There's another woman who didn't see a doctor practically her entire adult life because she needed to make ends meet for her kids. In other words, she didn't get a mammogram. She died from breast cancer.
Why are we comfortable buying car insurance, but anti-health insurance? My guess why: because the financial liability is clearer in a car crash, whereas there is no immediate gratification to navigating health plans. 

And the choices we have suck. Self-bought insurance plans are too expensive for "high risk" groups (with prior existing conditions or elders) and too expensive for "healthy" groups (youngins who may not have employer health benefits).

The inequity of access is exacerbated in rural or small town America where clinical care (something as simple as a 24-hour pharmacy) is limited or non existent. Residents in these small towns have health insurance, but they don't have access to the care they need.

Recently, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that allows for the new healthcare law to move forward. It will hold insurance companies more accountable, lower health care costs, and improve the quality of care.

There are obviously many supportive and opposing voices around this issue and I respect everyone's opinion. And here's what I think: I fully support The Affordable Care Act because it provides better access to care. While it might not be a perfect piece of legislation, the law will provide coverage for 30 million people who otherwise have no access to insurance.

While observing the political bickering, I can't help but think how making change is not easy; it's a process. At least we're starting somewhere! We can't just stick our head in the sand and pretend like our health problems will fade away on their own.

And since we're already on topic... how about a reality check? The most common diseases today are caused by lifestyle choices and excessive consumption. Diseases which are preventative.

We will save so much money in the long run by promoting wellness and preventative medicine instead of sending people to the ER when it's already too late. And sadly, it becomes a cycle of disease, passed from generation to generation because parents teach their children to make the same poor food choices. The victims of childhood obesity suffer most because they don't know any better. This is a community issue, not just a parenting issue.

How does the community take ownership?

  • By promoting health eating via healthy school lunches.
  • By offering more walkable routes and green spaces in our neighborhoods.
  • By caring about low-income communities where crime and high traffic deter people from physical exercise.

The health status of our country has many complicated factors and offering affordable healthcare is just one aspect (not the silver bullet) to cure our communities' public health burdens.

We have to be proactive about our health.

I assure you healthcare organizations are also doing their part to fight the spiraling costs of care. I work for Swedish the largest healthcare provider in Seattle. For the past 6 years, they have been working diligently to improve quality, reduce costs and increase access to care. Not to mention the large amount of charity care the organization provides. And I'm personally making it my mission to build new efficiencies and broaden our doctors' reach via technology.

Health is not just's mental and emotional too. Which means reducing stress is also important. So I've decided to tune out the conservative versus liberal bruhaha.

Why is our healthcare subject to the whims of controversy-lovers and drama queens?

Additional Resources:

  • Here is an amazing resource from Reddit to learn about the law
  • Or hear it directly from the White House here
  • BTW- I should also mention that there are alternative healthcare resources for eligible low income families in metropolitan areas like Seattle like Neighborcare which is an amazing organization.

[p.s. the views expressed in this blog do not reflect that of my employer]


  1. Very insightful views. I've worked jobs where I haven't had benefits, and it's scary not knowing what to do or where to go when you need to see a doctor or visit a hospital. So many people live in our country without access to quality affordable healthcare...

    1. It makes me so sad. You deserve peace of mind!!!