For several decades now your ability to access healthcare has been tied to your employment. This has meant that if you lose your job you lose your healthcare, but it also means that if you change jobs and get an unexpected cancer diagnosis you can expect to lose everything. And for most people getting your own health insurance is too costly and difficult, even with the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, which vary widely from state to state. The United States spends over 18% of its GDP collectively on healthcare, and outcomes are growing worse than in other industrialized nations. Is it time to rethink the practice of mixing business and medicine?
The business of medicine is mixed in with our personal work lives and our family lives at every turn. Without a job that offers health insurance coverage we often can’t afford healthcare for our families. The threat of losing a job and subsequently losing health insurance, especially as we get older, is a constant weight on our shoulders.
On top of the constant burden of maintaining steady employment without any ability to change career tracks at will so we can have the privilege of being able to see a doctor if we are sick, there is the added burden of the for-profit healthcare system to worry about. Between 2007 and 2014 the cost of healthcare in general rose 20% on average, and the cost of treating certain chronic conditions ballooned on top of that.
In that same time period, the cost of an Epipen grew from $100 to $600, an additional burden to working parents who already have to worry about their kids accidentally being exposed to a lethal allergen at school. The price of treating diabetes grew nearly $3000 a year between 2012 and 2016, and between 2007 and 2014 the cost of hospitalization grew 42%.
The business of health insurance is a lot bigger than most people realize. Last year the five largest health insurance providers brought in more revenue than the five largest tech companies. And these companies provide limited if any medical services to patients.
Because of all of these hurdles, Americans put off going to the doctor or getting necessary treatments because of costs. Imagine finding out you have cancer and you will need to not only come up with the money to pay for treatments and the will to go through the recovery process, but you also have to worry about keeping your job at the same time so you can even afford any of it, especially when paid time off is not mandated and only unpaid time off can help you keep your job in a medical crisis.
The stress of coupling business and medicine is too much for the average American worker to be expected to deal with, especially right now during this pandemic. Think about the millions of people who have lost their jobs and their health insurance – what would they do if they contracted COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized?
It might be time to figure out a way to move forward with the way we dispense healthcare in the United States. Learn more about the social impact of mixing business and medicine from the infographic below.