What's Broken About Health Care & How To Fix It

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If you haven't noticed, our health care system in the U.S. is imploding. I mean -- things are bad. I'm a doctor, and yet, because I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in my twenties, and because my husband accidentally cut two fingers off his left hand with a table saw, we're uninsurable under a traditional family health insurance program. We're still on COBRA, paying $200 per month until it runs out in two years and we'll have to scramble to find a way to stay insured.


Photo by Charlie Bosmore.

If we hadn't been insured, my husband certainly wouldn't have had those two fingers he cut off all the way to the nubs replanted. And he wouldn't have had those two follow up surgeries he needed in order to cut out the scar tissue that the first surgery caused. And he'd have a dang hard time typing out his novel right about now without those two fingers. And we're not even sick. God forbid one of us gets cancer (knock wood).

We Need Socialized Medicine

Health insurance as a for-profit business needs to be banned, and a nationalized system of health care needs to be implemented, as it has been in nearly every other developed nation, because basic health care should be a right, not a privilege. The U.S. was recently rated 37th in health outcomes by The World Health Organization, roughly on par with Serbia, while what we spend on health care is more than twice what people in other developed countries pay. In his article Why Our Health Matters, Dr. Andrew Weil writes: "If predictions hold, a family of four, in the next seven to nine years, will spend around $64,000 annually on health care." Holy schmoly.

Bye Bye Big Pharma, Hello Tort Reform

Big Pharma needs to be reined in and direct-to-consumer marketing should be eliminated, since it only serves to drive up the cost of health care. I know we need tort reform to lower the exorbitant cost of medical malpractice insurance, and we need laws in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits. (Yes, the only malpractice lawsuit ever filed against me was by a woman who says I stole her labia. Swear to God. And no -- I didn't take it. But that's another story for another day.)

The Doctor-Patient Relationship Needs To Be Reformed

As I wrote about here, managed care insurance companies have fractured the doctor-patient relationship, without decreasing health care costs, and the power in the health care system needs to be reinstated to where it belongs: in the hands of health care providers and patients, rather than in the pens and pockets of middle managers who are raking in massive profits, while patients and doctors are being squeezed.

The doctor-patient relationship needs some serious reform, and we must reclaim the heart of medicine. After all, science can cure, but only love heals, and medicine is, after all, a spiritual practice. In my work with patients, I practice love, with a little medicine on the side, and there are others out there practicing Pink Medicine and relating with patients the way I believe every doctor should, as I wrote about here.

Enter Preventative Medicine

Health insurance -- whether it's socialized medicine or for-profit insurance companies -- needs to cover not just treatment of disease, but prevention of it, helping to fund health-promoting supplements, classes, and alternative health care provider visits, not just drugs to cover up symptoms without getting to the heart of what's in need of healing. We also need to change how we educate our health care providers so that they better understand the breadth of what it means to facilitate health and healing.

Recruit Good Doctors

We need to make it easier for good doctors to get trained. When most physician salaries are a third of what they were 40 years ago (while inflation has upped the cost of living and running a practice), medical students and residents shouldn't have to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they may never be able to repay. The government should help fund medical education, and in return, doctors would pay back their medical education loans by serving underprivileged areas where doctors are scarce.

That way doctors don't feel trapped in medicine, working like indentured servants to debts they can't repay when they realize how much it actually costs to pay their medical malpractice premiums.

I Could Go On…

I could bitch and moan indefinitely about the ways in which our health care system is broken. But that's not really my style. So I'm going to focus on what I can do to change it.

I'm not interested in running for office and battling legislation in Washington. I don't feel like going head-to-head with the American Medical Association to take down The Old Medicine and replace it with a more modernized, feminized, heart-centered model. I'm just gonna do it the way I do everything. I’m going to lead by example. I'm going to invite a small army of remarkable people to join my tribe and help me affect real change. I'm going to invite you to send this agreement to your doctor and see if they'll sign on to do this with us.

I'm going to write my next book and ask you to help me spread the word once it's out. I'm going to blog about this. I'm going to hold a Self-Healing Summit so you can learn more about how to empower yourself to do the heavy lifting without depending on our broken system. I'm going to start launching some programs that will help you learn a new model of wellness that will change how you think about medicine altogether. I'm going to invite you to join my newsletter so we can keep in touch as I dig deeper into the action steps you'll be able to take to help me.

And I'm just gonna keep on keepin' on. Because this is what I'm called to do. And nobody better get in the way between me and my calling…

With faith in the way things will one day be,

****
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What's Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend andEncaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax. Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.

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