My Response to the Trending “Health care Crisis” Photo on Facebook

Recently several of my friends have been sharing the “health care crisis” photo about the situation involving a young physician and a medicaid patient. You know, the one with the male physician in the green scrubs. Basically, Dr. Starner Jones (the writer) is writing a letter to the President explaining his problems with the current medicaid system. Here is an excerpt from the post online:

“During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive
Shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive 
Brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone. While glancing over her
Patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed 
Me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. 
And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the
Result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture”, a culture in which it is perfectly
Acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. 
It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. “

I’m an optimist, so I generally give people the benefit of a doubt. I try not to judge people based on their looks, nor judge them at all. I too, work in the health care field in both a pharmacy and hospital, so I see various angles of medicare and medicaid patients. Sure, there may be people that cheat the system and use their SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) card to buy pretzels while using extra money to buy cigarettes and beer, but we just can’t judge someone based on their appearance. We don’t know her situation. Maybe she got the tattoos done before she started needing financial assistance. Maybe she gets her name brand clothes from the Goodwill and her shoes could have been a knockoff. A new phone? Maybe it wasn’t hers. If I had a loved one that didn’t have a cell phone go to the hospital, I would give them mine to borrow so we could find out how they were doing while they were there.

Of the 311 million Americans (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.htm), only 52.6 million are on medicaid. That’s only 16.9% of Americans on Medicaid. Welfare has been significantly cut since 1996 (http://money.cnn.com/2012/08/09/news/economy/welfare-reform/index.htm). If part of my wages goes to someone that could not afford healthcare due to their own means, than I’m fine with that!

Anyway, as far as his statement that the problem is a “crisis of culture”, I do agree to that. However, it is not just welfare patients that have the mentality, “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Unfortunately, health insurance is used by many Americans as the backup fund. Instead of taking medications to prevent disease and choosing a lifestyle that promotes health, many Americans just live the way they want until they have a serious ailment, such as a heart attack. As a society, we can work to keep healthcare costs down by taking better care of ourselves so that expensive healthcare situations do not occur. The Healthy People 2020 Act is working for improving health and educating people on how to live in a healthy matter. 

It’s not just the government that needs to work on healthcare reform, but we Americans, as well. The number one leading cause of death is heart disease, but it doesn’t have to be if Americans took better care of themselves by eating properly and exercising. We need to work on having better health so that patients that truly need healthcare can have it.  

 

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