In the painting by Sir Luke Fildes of 1887, appropriately named “The Doctor,” we are shown a man brooding over a sick child while parents stand by in anguish looking towards the greying man for reassurance. Apart from being an expensive oil painting it is the standard by which contemporary medical professionals are compared to. As medicine has improved and capitalism reigned supreme, the image of the doctor has been slowly, but surely, moving away from the gentleman that cares about your wellbeing towards the stranger that tells you to pull your pants down and bend over. Why is this? There are several reasons, but one of the biggest would have to be the use of private health insurance companies.
One of the big issues in the upcoming election is health care. One of the biggest criticisms given to the Obama administration is the approval of “Obamacare.” The one and only solid cornerstone in Romney’s campaign platform is the immediate repeal of the president’s radical health care program. Former Gov. Mitt Romney suggests that competition is the best way for medicine to improve and that giving the government control over medical care will make it less appealing to practice medicine in the U.S. As a student looking toward pre-medicine I can confidently say that Romney is right when he says that doctors will make less money than they do now once Obamacare is put in place. This however does not make Romney right and Obamacare a mistake. In fact, Obamacare could be the first step that can be taken towards restoring the image of the doctor to that of Fildes’s painting.
Many of those supporting the repeal of Obamacare love to criticize the plan for the future but never take the time to analyze health care that is in play right now. Private health insurance companies have turned the health care field’s focus from a patient’s health to a patient’s wallet. In today’s world, a doctor is paid for quantitative work rather than qualitative discipline. In other words, a doctor testing a child with a cough for rheumatoid arthritis, brain tumors and Lyme’s disease will be better paid than a doctor that correctly diagnosis the child with a common cold and prescribes some cough medicine. Insurance companies dole out money to hospitals and clinics for procedures that are unnecessary which benefits the hospital and the doctor but which are detrimental to the physician-patient bond, as well as to the insurance companies which boost their premiums to keep up with the expense of showering hospitals with money.
So where does a person with a meager income or a pre-existing condition turn for medical care in our current system? The answer is nowhere, that’s when we get the cases of people being thrown on the street when the head of finances finds out that the patient has no insurance, when people are forced to make their own casts for broken limbs or inefficient remedies for serious ailments.
Our current health care system is not only inefficient, it is morally inhumane. The United States is one of the last industrialized countries without universal health care even though it is suggested that it spends more money on medical expenses PER PERSON than almost every other country in the world. It is a responsibility of the country to care for its citizens and the U.S. fails to do so in the simplest of ways: by nationalizing health care. The corruption of the health care field can only be cured by the tight grasp of the federal government. With the plan that Obama has set in play it will be easy for the government to keep doctors from ordering unnecessary tests and it will give those of us who are currently unable to afford health care or who have pre-existing conditions a healthy alternative to dying on the street or going broke. Those who oppose the “Affordable Care Act” say that our objective is to keep the government out of the painting of “the Doctor;” I would say that as a supporter of Obamacare our objective is to keep insurance companies out of the painting.
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