Why Aren't We Talking About Healthcare

I'm applying to medical school this year. I spent much of my time in college shadowing healthcare professionals helping patients. If my experiences in the hospital were to have followed the narrative depicted by our media coverage or that of the narrative promoted by the Republican nominee, I should have expected to see many of the patients suffering from critical wounds sustained by radical terror attacks.

And yet in my hundreds of hours interacting with patients and their families, it was heart disease and diabetes, cancer and lower respiratory diseases that interrupted and posed as the greatest threat to these patients' lives. These cases were not trivial. Some were life and death. All deeply affected all family members and friends involved. And I remember many of these stories to this day.

What frustrates me the most aren't the cases themselves - medical science has come a long way in ameliorating suffering and extending life. What frustrates me are the cases that should have never been, our profession's limitations - the patients with preventable conditions that resulted from poor diet, lack or exercise, and smoking. The patients who were lost in a system unfamiliar to them, the patients who were bounced from one doctor to another, all of whom esteemed specialists, but lacking in the communication and coordination necessary to care for the patient as a whole person independent from merely an intellectual exercise to be solved. I felt helpless witnessing patients worry about access and cost as a barrier to their care rather than the limits of our scientific advances.

Government is supposed to protect its citizens from forces they can't protect themselves against. That's why we have a military. That's why Americans worry about terrorism. But as I can tell you and as any doctor can tell you, that's not the greatest threat to your life. From your own experience caring for your older loved ones, you know this too.

The thing is, government can do a lot to protect us from the limitations of medicine. The Let's Move Campaign, led by First Lady Michelle Obama, focuses on reducing childhood obesity by promoting healthy diet and increasing physical exercise among our nation's youth. And in its five first nascent years, it's already made significant progress in changing school cultures and stabilizing childhood obesity rates. These efforts will help our children avoid many of the preventable cases we see in hospitals and allow our youngest citizens to maintain active health later in their adult lives.

The Affordable Care Act, enacted by President Obama, not only prevents insurers from denying patients coverage due to pre-existing conditions and provides subsidies to help over twenty million Americans attain insurance coverage, but also mandates that insurance companies change their payment methodology to support value and quality over quantity in the way that healthcare is delivered. Under new care models such as Accountable Care Organizations and Patient-Centered Homes, greater coordination allows doctors to work together in team settings and practice medicine that focuses on patients rather than cases, human beings rather than diseases. Greater communication among doctors will result in higher quality care and more cost-efficient care. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2533698

Hilary Clinton wants to continue the progress achieved by the Affordable Care Act and build upon it by lowering prescription drug prices, and proposing new strategies to support Americans with mental health illnesses. https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2016/07/09/hillary-clintons-commitment-universal-quality-affordable-health-care-for-everyone-in-america/. These are all impactful action plans that will improve the lives of millions of Americans, ensuring that our citizens can live healthier lives, and healthier lives in a dignified manner, in a manner that won't compromise them financially. Donald Trump has no plan other than repealing the ACA. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform

There's a lot that medicine can do and accomplish. That's why I want to enter the field. But there's still so much that medicine can't do, so much that medicine may never be able to do. And yet, those limits should never confine us from continuing to seek solutions to better our nation's health, to stop patients from suffering and preventing folks from leaving before their time. We owe it our friends, our family, our loved ones, to do what we can to protect each other. Government can help. Hilary Clinton and her healthcare plan can help. Vote this election for the issues that matter the most.