Healthcare and Honey

med

It’s made up of two basic words, health and care. The word is a prescription in itself for its function in the care of health. Yet, when sitting in on a healthcare meeting today, the only theme that I could draw was the pursuit of money. They discussed reimbursement, incentives, and the bonus structure and barely touched on patient care. By the way, this was a monthly staff meeting, not a finance review.

What happened to doing the right thing for the right reason? Naysayers might respond with something like, the insane cost of med school and malpractice insurance happened, along with the need to live in a house nice enough to keep the wife/husband/life partner and kids/cats/dogs/exotic pets happy, along with the desire to drive a reliable luxury car to keep up the image of being a doc.

Healthcare workers (I’m referring to the specific workers who have an M.D.) are placed in a position of power over the sick and injured, as is any healthy person over the unhealthy. There should be a certain social responsibility to provide the care and treatment needed to restore balance to the patient, regardless of insurance carrier or plan. At what price to the country, community, and to the physician would this cost?

Stratification, statistics, disease, demographics, containment, outcomes and cost are all variables in the healthcare mess with only one element that really matters. If you guessed anything that doesn’t rhyme with honey, than you are likely not reading this post very closely.

In truth, it all comes down to money. Can you pay or can’t you, and yes, there will be a different result based on your answer. Perhaps a return to the barter system could be part of the solution, service for goods, like farm fresh eggs or an old cell phone for an exam. Surgery would cost a bit more, like an agreement to mow the surgeon’s lawn for a year or the gift of the patient’s first born son.

It certainly would be easier if we still needed each other to live instead of just for the accumulation of dollars and cents.

Often, I find myself wondering about the true cost of this value proposition on our souls and on the future.

And all for what?

For the Love of Money

I don’t really love money, but I need it to live. I like the way dollars smell and the weight of coins in my pocket. When dollars and cents are regularly deposited into my bank account, bills get paid, food fills the refrigerator, and I might get a new pair of shoes.

The money appears silently with the magic of technology. I go to sleep broke on Wednesday and awake rich on Thursday, all without ever touching a single cent. I especially love to wake up on Thursday morning, flick open my banking app, and confirm the magic happened overnight, again. The experience is kind of tooth-fairy-ish in the way I expectantly go to sleep the night before, almost certain what awaits me in the morning.

The ease and convenience are incredible but there is a trade-off for satisfaction. There was sense of completion after working for a week or two and then picking up a check or tidy little pile of bills. A paycheck was something to hold and tuck away until it could be cashed or saved. I used to take a special trip just to drive to the bank with my paycheck, gossip with the banker, and make my deposit. I could leave with a few crisp bills in my hand and save the rest for a rainy day.

Now, I work all day at a job with nothing to show at the end of the day, aside from a pile of papers and a gaggle of needy clients. At the end of the week, the money appears electronically, and still I have nothing to show. There isn’t even the option to receive a paper check at my current work place. My well-being is based on the communication of machines, sending numbers from one imaginary place to another. I could go to the bank for cash, but what’s the point when I can pay for everything with a debit or credit card?

What used to be tangible is now locked away in a digital world without much of a chance to return. I’m not complaining about the convenience of the e-transfers, but I can’t say that I have wisely used any time saved from the elimination of physical banking. Instead, I find more ways to save time with technology and further withdraw from the real world and find myself deeper in the digital abyss.

That’s it for today. Good-bye WordPress, hello Facebook. We’ve got some newsfeed to review.