Final Thoughts

Coming into this course I was under the impression that I had a decent amount of knowledge on the current state of our healthcare system….boy, was I wrong. Can we even call what we have right now a healthcare system? When I think of a healthcare system I think of a system that focuses primarily on providing affordable and easily accessible healthcare. Instead, our healthcare system places great emphasis on making money wherever it can, allowing the patient’s (consumer’s?) health to come second. What puzzles me the most is knowing that having somewhat an ideal system is achievable. If Canada, Germany and Great Britain can then why can’t we?

The most shocking issue that we covered was end-of-life care. I never realized the amount of mistreatment and just lack of care the elderly experience. Throughout the time spent on this topic, I found myself questioning whether or not my own relatives had encountered the harsh treatment experienced in these facilities. This course touched upon a great deal of topics that had never crossed my mind. Learning about the effects of SES on healthcare was pretty eye opening as well. I think it should be a mandatory course for anyone considering a career in healthcare. Most universities emphasize the science component behind this field but it goes beyond that. Maybe this is why we see such a great deal of disconnect between a patient and his doctor. I also believe that in order improve the field that you’re entering in, you should make yourself aware of the current issues at hand. My favorite component of the course was discussion. Although information from lecture was often reiterated, your enthusiasm for the content was refreshing and helpful!  This has been one of my favorite courses thus far at BU, and this is coming from someone who could not make it past 3 lectures of SO 100!

food for thought

After reading about the extreme mistreatment Mr. Andrey endured, it seems that he would have been better off anywhere but a nursing home. Were his healthcare providers seriously concerned with his health or were they more concerned with the money his stay in these facilities would bring?

How can healthcare providers force the elderly to remain in their treatment facilities against their will? The treatment Mr. Andrey endured was inhumane. Why isn’t the government stricter with laws that prevent experiences like this from happening?

Would forcing people to make decisions regarding their long term care improve the quality of care in the long run? Or reduce it?

In the long run, is it more expensive to die in a nursing home facility or at home? What is one sacrificing by choosing one or the other? Does being a country that steers away from having conversations of death affect the state of elderly care? If so, in what ways?

Discussion Questions

 Should long term care policies be mandatory to purchase after a certain age? Is it safe today that the US would see similar results to those in Germany if such a system was put into place? What would be the pros and cons of enforcing such a policy?  Why hasn’t the US implemented a  long term care plan similar to that of Germany?
 Do investor owned nursing homes have show any worry for caring for the elderly or is it simply about making money? If states are aware of the low quality care being provided, then why don’t they enforce regulations in order to change this?

Depression + Technology = No.

People are the best help for depression, not computers by Lynne Shallcross

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/27/health/fight-depression-online-programs/index.html

This article brought to light a new way of treating depression, online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that I was completely unaware of. Like the title hints at, studies have shown that when it comes to treating depression, human interaction is the way to go. This finding seems pretty obvious to me. I was more shocked to discover that online depression treatments exist.

These online forms of treatment have been gaining popularity because of its low cost and easy access. This type of treatment makes it seems like someone’s problems can be solved with a click of a mouse. The article explains that a team of researches from the University of York conducted an experiment where three groups received different forms of depression treatment: one group received all care from a physician and the other two received physician care as well  as treatment from a computerized CBT program. After four months, the patients using computerized CBT programs began dropping out of the study because of  no signs of improvement.

This article highlighted just how dependent society is becoming on technology. Depression is such a serious condition, and one that many have trouble confiding in another about. Of course an online option would be appealing to those who are too afraid of seeking physician care. Although it may seem appealing at first, I believe that those suffering from depression need that in person contact in order to receive the best care possible. A computer cannot pickup on feelings or provide that safe atmosphere one can feel comfortable confiding in another in. Human interaction is vital in treating depression, in order to let the sufferer know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Lack of money should not make this a person’s only resort, but unfortunately that is the kind of healthcare system we have. The article mentions that this form of treatment can be effective for those with mild symptoms of depression, but nothing beats knowing that another human-being is emotionally there for you, even when it feels like you have nobody in your corner.

Many will benefit from parental paid leave…so why isn’t it a thing yet?

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/29/health/paid-leave-benefits-to-children-research/

I did not find the title of this piece surprising. Of course there are a great deal of benefits that come from paid leave for children! What I remain surprised by is that the the US is the only industrialized country that still does not guarantee paid parental leave. Not only does this article highlight the health benefits that would come from adopting such a policy, but the economical ones as well.

CNN reviewed more than 20 studies in order to conclude that paid parental leave can lead to a great deal of health benefits. Paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10%. Paid leave can also increase the chances that infants are receiving the proper vaccinations. CNN also reported the positive mental health effects that having more than 12 weeks of maternity leave had on new mothers. Mothers reported a reduction in depression, and just an overall improvement in their mental health. Not only was this a short term effect, but these benefits extended over time as well. Mothers were 18% less likely to suffer from depression 30 years later. The article also briefly touched upon the positive effects paid paternal  leave had on fathers. As little as 10 days showed fathers being more involved with their children then men who took no leave. Women would also benefit from paid leave economically. They were more likely to go back to work because they were with the same employer. Their wages increased as well.

What shocked me the most about this article was the last piece of information given to readers: one in four women who are employed go back to work within two-weeks of delivery. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around a woman carrying a child for nine months, going through labor, and only having 14 days to recover. Women are essentially being forced to choose between spending time with their child or being able to finically provide for their needs. How are there not going to be negative effects for the mother’s physical and mental health? Implementing paid parental leave seems to benefit everyone who is involved (employers, mothers, and fathers). I am completely aware that it’s going to cost a good chunk of money at first, but I firmly believe that in this situation the benefits outweigh the costs.

Reflection

I was not really looking forward to taking this class when I saw that it was a requirement for my intended major. I had given intro to sociology a try my first semester here, but dropped it because it was not interesting whatsoever. I registered for this particular section because I imagined that it would be slightly more intriguing then the intro course, because of its focus on healthcare. Within the first month of taking the course and learning how disorderly our healthcare system is, I came to the realization that I no longer want to purse a career as a physician.

I have nothing but respect for the brave men and women who put on their white lab coats and work long hours to provide for a healthcare system whose main concern is money. I entered this course thinking I was somewhat knowledgable on US healthcare, but now that I am reflecting, I knew absolutely nothing! It is extremely difficult to think that our healthcare system’s main concern is not providing affordable and accessible healthcare options for everyone, but simply just making money. It makes me question how many people are losing their lives to actual diseases and how many are losing their lives because they just simply cannot afford insurance. As a country who prides itself on being advanced in all areas, we seem to be falling way behind in this one. The most disturbing piece of information for me was hearing about the woman who died of lupus because of a mistake on Medicaid’s behalf. It’s alarming to see that we recognize that our system is flawed, but still seem to be taking our sweet time to correct it. I am eager to learn more within the coming weeks, but constantly find myself thinking “could it get any worse?”

Study shows were Americans truly want their money spent….and they have it all wrong!

Johns Hopkins sociologist, Stephen L. Morgan and grad student Mihyoung Kang analyzed data between 2004 and 2014 from General Social Surveys in order to determine areas where Americans felt they should be spending the most and least amount of their money. They were able to conclude that over that period of time Americans (distinguished by political parties on the actual graph) wanted to spend the least amount of money on health, followed by the environment, assistance for the poor and scientific research. They also concluded that Americans wanted to spend more on space exploration and highways and bridges. The articles states that before Obamacare was implemented both the democrat and republican parties wanted to see more money spent on healthcare. After its implementation this outlook drastically changed, with Republican support for federal health care spending dropping by 25%, democrats dropping by 12%, and independents dropping by as much as 15%. Morgan was also able to conclude a 5 point decline in the percentage of democrats who felt the federal government had an obligation to help individuals with their healthcare bills.

The results from the study came as a huge shock to me. Affordable and easily accessible healthcare is one of the biggest issues we have in the US at the moment. Just because we throw some money at the issue does not equate to “problem solved”. The results from the study demonstrate just how uneducated Americans are about our current health crisis. I am not ashamed to admit that before taking this course I was one of those misguided individuals. The first step in addressing this issue is to raise awareness. If the majority of the population was aware of just how in disarray our healthcare system is and the reason for that, than they would be opting to spend more to correct this issue. I also think the study highlights that just because you invest a great amount of money in a problem does not mean that it can be fixed. Obamacare sounds great on paper, but in reality is not working for the individuals who are not financially stable. So maybe instead of investing money, Americans should be demanding that policy makers who are dedicated to truly developing a sustainable system invest their minds and energy! It’s ironic to see that the issues Americans wan to spend the least amount of money on are the ones we should be focusing the most on. Space exploration? Highways and bridges? It’s like we’re trying to run away from our biggest issues instead of facing them head-on.

Source: http://hub.jhu.edu/2015/09/21/obamacare-health-care-spending-survey-shift