Elizabeth Rosenthal shows us the serious side effects that occur when mixing profit-seeking with healthcare.
By Robert Simmons
In the past quarter century, the American medical system has stopped focusing on health or even science. Instead it attends more or less single-mindedly on its own profits…The Affordable Care Act was mostly a bill to make sure that every American could have access to health insurance. But it didn’t directly do much, if anything, to control runaway spending or unsavory business practices.Elisabeth Rosenthal
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal has skillfully detailed the many symptoms afflicting our failing healthcare system, and offered each of us a prescription for managing this chronic condition, until a cure can be found. The diagnosis is indeed grim: profit-seeking has infected our entire healthcare system, meaning we have now officially lost every one of our institutions to this disease; government, religion, education, healthcare; nothing appears immune to it.
An American Sickness is not only required reading for all forebrains, it represents a call to action for those of us who seek a cure. Here at the Forebrain Underground (as well as The Third Option), it is our obligation to process all relevant information given by experts like Dr. Rosenthal, and apply it toward theories that generate viable solutions; anything less would be doing a disservice to Dr. Rosenthal and the entire medical community, who have sworn an oath to uphold a standard of ethics that every day they are forced to compromise.
Trying to sell us “more” of this, or the “most expensive” version of that, meanwhile attempting to hook us on a product for “life”, while raising up the price as high as “the market will bear”…Sadly, Dr. Rosenthal’s “Economic Rules of the Dysfunctional Medical Market” read as standard operating procedure for any other part of the economy; these things should sound offensive to us regardless of the context, but the fact is, we have grown numb to all of it. Through the more narrow lens of healthcare, the good doctor has managed to pinpoint staple strategies in the private sector’s economic arsenal, and because these strategies personally affect our well-being, revealing them allows us to be more personally offended by them. In this way, An American Sickness becomes much more than an indictment of American Healthcare; it is an indictment of all our crooked private sector practices, and a clear warning label that certain things, essential to human survival, should not be negotiated on the open market.
[American Healthcare] is now so dysfunctional that I sometimes think the only solution is to blow the whole thing up.Professor Glenn Melnick, USC health economics and finance
The reason lives are not worth much until we want to save them is analogous to why the individual parts of a car cost eight times more than the price of the entire car put together: initially, both you and your car are valuable merely as tools in the private sector economy; you must realize your “potential” in order to create value. It’s how much you will pay to keep yourself or your car running smoothly, in order to maximize your potential, that informs the market how much cost you would be willing to “bear”; to the extent that you value your own car, or your own life, you fall prey to whoever claims the ability to keep the two of you moving along; in this way, we barter every day for our continued existence.
The indignity this book exposes is that, in reality, individual human life, even when trying to preserve it, is simply a means to a profit-driven end. Until we answer this existential question differently, and decide to value individual life more than profit – we will continue to allow the market to determine our human worth.