When I started medical school I had vague ideas about what I wanted to do with my life. In medical school I discovered primary care and Family Medicine, the kind of doctor I have decided to become. I can’t wait to begin hearing my patients’ stories and understanding how they got into my office. I want to have my own go, using my own style to help people deal with managing their diseases. Forming authentic relationships with my patients so that they trust me and in turn I can use that trust to motivate my patients to make real changes in their lives. But, in these last five years of medical school I know I want to do more. I know I can do more. There are still countless areas to improve our healthcare system and the way we as healthcare professionals take care of our patients.
As a medical student I’ve become more and more familiar with our nation’s healthcare system and it’s simply not good enough. Despite the Affordable Care Act’s efforts, 33 million Americans still don’t have insurance. Furthermore, recent studies have found that only 51% of families can afford their deductibles. Also, consider that over 75% of American’s are living paycheck to paycheck with far too many financial responsibilities to even fathom an emergency savings. What good is health insurance if you can’t pay the deductible to use it?
But, insurance is complicated. Only one in seven really understand what they are looking at when they are deciding on a plan. People are inundated with complicated insurance plans with huge ranges of deductibles, premiums, and options of coverage. Disguised behind the ability to choose is a massive epidemic of poorly informed financial decisions. Behind the low premiums lie massive deductibles waiting to trounce the Americans that believe “that won’t happen to me” or “I’m healthy, I’m young, what could happen?” This is the problem. Picking our health insurance shouldn’t be a gamble. Americans shouldn’t be putting themselves and their families at risk of financial ruin. Americans deserve better than insurance companies leaching low premiums each month and then forcing American’s to put off care until they can “afford” it.
I won’t stand for it. Not anymore. I know now what I will dedicate myself towards. I will fight for better health coverage. Healthcare is a basic human right that everyone in this country, citizen and non-citizen, deserves. I will work through research and advocacy to change our nation’s healthcare system to one that every American citizen can rely on and be proud of; A healthcare system that is not the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the country.
I now stand in front of a massive decision. Where will I go for my residency training? I will choose a program that will foster my enthusiasm and direct into a force of change and leadership. A program that will refine my passion and refine it so that I can work to better not only individual patient’s lives but our entire nation’s health and well being.
Levy J. April 2015. In U.S., Uninsured Rate Dips to 11.9% in First Quarter. Gallup. [Date accessed: 11/18/15]. http://www.gallup.com/poll/182348/uninsured-rate-dips-first-quarter.aspx
Johnson A. June 2013. 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. CNN Money. [Date Access: 11/18/15].http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/
Dartagnan. March 2015. More And More Americans Can’t Afford “High Deductible” Health Insurance Plans. Daily Kos. [Date accessed: 11/18/15]. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/3/13/1370679/-More-And-More-Americans-Can-t-Afford-High-Deductible-Health-Insurance-Plans
Loewenstein G, Friedman JY, McGill B, et al. Consumers’ misunderstanding of health .insurance. Journal of Health Economics32 (2013) 850–862