I had many interesting moments when I was visiting family over the holiday break. One moment was in church, listening to a sermon on "And So The Battle Begins." I had the thought when I was listening to the pastor preach about standing up for truth and continuing to speak about it regardless of who you think is listening, that this is what I've been working on in my quest to get people to understand their own power in health care.
To roll the tape back, a day or two before we left to visit our family, I was clearing out my old file cabinet and found the essay I wrote when I was applying to medical school over 20 years ago. What struck me is that I focused on things that I don't remember writing back then, but things I went back to writing nearly two decades later. Issues like the importance of the patient's role in health and health care outcomes - and even in health care costs.
I come by this naturally, having helped my family physician father name his private practice in the 1970s. My pick? Self Care Options. And it stuck.
The idea was that healers, like my Dad, are there as a conduit, a guide, a resource, to help people help themselves. That I've always felt health wasn't something a health care "provider" could give you in a pill or even in a surgery. Yes, these are additional tools that can help and are many times needed components, but without a patient's engagement and acceptance of responsibility, would be incomplete or moot at best, damaging at worst.
As we move into 2014 with the Affordable Care Act roll-out fully "rolling out," are we still focused on the wrong things? A focus on universal insurance coverage is really a misdirect. It really should be a focus on access to health care, and health itself, for all. A key component in truly reforming health care is ensuring access to health care professionals. Another is access to health care professionals who understand that a critical part of their job is to help people find (and learn to use) tools to need them, the health care professionals, less.
Because we can and should need health care professionals less than we think we do now. In case there was any doubt, the health care apocalypse is now - it actually has been raging for decades- we've all been contributing, playing our roles. With the ACA, the apocalypse simply continues - with penalty for those without "coverage."
So you may have insurance coverage now. But when it comes to what you really want - better health with access to health care when you need it - are you really "covered"?
Dr. Cindy Haines is a family doctor, medical journalist, and "70.3 yogi." For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.
Published On: January 05, 2014