Priming for the Future

Looking back on this semester, I realize I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would. I came to this class knowing that the healthcare system was considerably flawed, but this class opened my eyes to the extent at which our healthcare system is flawed. Some politicians (more recently some presidential nominees) talk about fixing this country’s healthcare as if it could be accomplished overnight and suddenly everyone who should be covered, would be covered. However, the healthcare system is so much more intricate than that as its problems stem from a wide variety of sources, starting from the very birth of healthcare. Where most people think that its problems stem from doctors charging a lot for their services or insurance companies being unwilling to cover certain medical treatments or procedures, these people fail to see that it is also the fault of pharmaceutical companies, the way it is so difficult for people to attain a higher socioeconomic class, and so much more that influences the amount and level of care that is accessible and also importantly, affordable to everyone in this country.

It’s hard pill to swallow when one sees exactly how many people are without adequate healthcare or medical insurance in this country, more often than not through no fault of their own. We even went through stories in class of people who worked their entire lives, bought a house, and have retired, only to be pulled out of retirement and lose everything they had because of a medical issue that they have to pay out of pocket for. It’s an even harder pill to swallow when we see how people from other countries thrive under their country’s version of healthcare, other countries having universal healthcare. Politicians in the United States argue that our government cannot afford to provide universal healthcare for everyone in the country. How then, are other countries able to afford universal healthcare for their citizens? In addition, how then does US government have enough money to spend trillions of dollars on wars in the Middle East? Though many of these questions will take more research and taking related classes to answer, SO215 has primed me to begin questioning these aspects of healthcare not just through the length of the course, but for the rest of my life as an active and voting citizen of this country.

Do we lose value as we grow older?

Upon reading the article titled “Fighting to Honor a Father’s Last Wish: To Die at Home,” I was appalled at the treatment given to not only the Stefanides family, but the elderly and or disabled community as a whole in their struggle for adequate and genuine care from insurers, doctors, hospitals, as well as nursing homes. From physical abuse to possible starvation to being left to stew in their own defecation for hours due to lack of professional supervision and neglect, the extent to which older Americans like Andrew Stefanides are forgotten and mistreated makes one question the morality of the US healthcare system and its motivation to “Save lives” as opposed to “palliative care.” Andrew Stefanides was a hardworking man from humble beginnings who served our country in War War II. He, as well as his poor wife whom suffered from mental illness, deserved to be treated with respect and allowed a peaceful death. Yet, both were robbed of those very social rights. As soon as we no longer provide exploitable physical or mental strength, it has long been seen that we as a people lose our place in the job and or relationship market. As shown by this article, the “health market” can be added to the list. Whatever value is granted towards the old and or disabled it seems is solely to provide profit. I guess my question is if others agree with this statement. Do you believe that in American culture, individuals lose value as they age or suffer from disabilities? Would the same treatment have been shown by the health system if children were at the center of the issue instead? How much would the public or political parties have advocated and actively participated in reform then?

A Critical Review of the Fiscal Repercussions of the ACA

An interesting article I read this month, published in The Wall Street Journal, discussed the financial implications of the Affordable Care Act and provided an interesting point that had been brushed upon but not examined in class. The article, entitled “Medicaid Expansion Is Proving to Be a Bad Bargain for States”, does show a bias which is usually not overly credible, however, its point is well supported. Continue reading “A Critical Review of the Fiscal Repercussions of the ACA”

Person-Centered Health Care

In the Chicago Sun-Times article, U. of C. part of push for ‘person-centered’ health care, the Associated Press addresses a major flaw in communication that exists in the current physician-patient relationship and in the overall system of care seen in hospitals as well as the steps that are being taken by the University of Chicago to eliminate such issues. A very prominent problem arises when complex diagnoses or diseases must be broken down for the patients to understand in order to know what exactly they have and what has to happen down the road. This problem is that the patients and family of those patients leave the hospital either not knowing what has to be done or feeling as if there is something wrong with them for not knowing all the necessary information. In an attempt to better inform patients and create better physician-patient communication and relationships, the University of Chicago has created the Comprehensive Care Program. This is a new model of care that aims to shift doctors’ from treating symptoms to treating people. This is an, “individualized model of care, called “person-centered care” or “patient-centered care,” [that] is based on the idea that costs can be reined in by preventing expensive emergency room visits.”

Continue reading “Person-Centered Health Care”

Hospital Code = Zip Code?

More often than not, the ZIP code health paradigm seems to be defining healthcare outcomes – and hospital codes – in cities across the United States. I found one of the most striking aspects of this unit to be this extreme correlation between zip code and health. It appears as if zip codes act as very simple, very prominent way of measuring social determinants of health in a specific geographical area via highly readily accessible data. The question is, in what way can this paradigm be effectively tackled in order to reduce this zip code inequality?

Continue reading “Hospital Code = Zip Code?”

Process Reflection 2

I would love to think biology was the sole reason some people live longer than others. However, countless research projects and case studies reveal that there are other underlying factors at hand. The discrepancy between male and female life expectancies was not surprising to me. There exists a social stigma that men “naturally” die younger than women due to “natural” causes. For a long time, I accepted the principle as a fact and failed to question the implications of the trend.

It is true that there are many biological aspects that can explain why men die significantly younger than women. For example, genetic deficits are often the causes of many mutations that lead to lifetime diseases and cancers. The difference in chromosomes suggests men can potentially have weaker immune systems and are more vulnerable to such illnesses. Yet, what I found simply fascinating were the social reasons proposed by Professor Guseva. I was bewildered to discover the consequences of how society views men can dramatically change something as important as life expectancy. An abnormally high 15% of males who die at ages 20-24 is due to suicide. With the overall empowering feminist movement, I failed to realize there are social problems for men as well. The lectures were truly eye awakening, especially as we compared the discrepancies in developing countries and developed countries. The conclusion that male-female life expectancy gaps were smaller in poor, developing countries was completely unexpected.

As we delve deeper into the conversation and discuss what can be done, I feel much more indeed can be done in my lifetime. However, these social matters will not be recognized and accepted easily. The idea that a strong man should never get ill or be depressed has been present since the dawn of time. Even evolution explains that female look favorably upon males who are the strongest and healthiest of the breed. I believe the most efficient way to handle this social crisis would be to continue discussing the matter. In doing so, these archaic perceptions would begin to fade and the newer generations would then be responsible for how these inequalities are handled.

Women and Health: The Stigma of Pain

I recently read an article dealing with gender issues, consisting of the treatment of women’s pain by doctors and hospitals. Apparently women’s pain isn’t taken as seriously as men’s pain. My question ties in with differences in gender and the stigmatization of women’s health. Women are viewed as having less tolerance to pain, being more emotional, and  being less rational as opposed to men. It can be also said that women experience more abdominal and pelvic pain more often, so the hasty decision of doctors could be to a common ailment as opposed to a more serious problem. So when it comes to women’s health, why is it viewed in a rather stigmatized and unimportant part of the field of health?

How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously

Social Construction of Illness

In the article “The Social Construction of Illness: Key Insights and Policy Implications” by Peter Conrad and Kristin Barker, the continued development of medicalization is examined. It is said that disease is the biological condition and that illness is the social meaning of the condition. Continue reading “Social Construction of Illness”

The Social Construct of Illness

In Conrad and Baker’s article, they claim that illness is socially constructed. They state that the social construct of illness is “rooted in the widely recognized conceptual distinction between disease (the biological condition) and illness (the social meaning of the condition).” Social constructionists emphasize how the meaning and experience of illness is shaped by cultural and social systems. This suggests that individuals and groups not only suffer from the illness physically, but that there is also a social/societal stigmatism that comes with illness/disease that brings an added burden to any sufferers. Conrad and Baker state that a stigmatized illness can make an illness much more difficult to treat and manage. The stigma that comes with disease is often brought about because of widespread publicity about the disease and/or a widespread negative view to people with the particular condition. The two claim that effective policies for these stigmatized illness have a large barrier to overcome because of the added stigma. Should policy be focussed on overcoming the barrier, or should it be focussed on educating the people so that the stigma is generally removed from a particular condition? Should limits be placed on care publicity (i.e: drug/treatment ads) so that the stigma is lessened, or should the marketing of treatment be changed so that the stigma associated with a particular illness is one that encourages early treatment and proactivity?