Martin Luther King once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane”.
Inhuman or Inhumane? Health or Healthcare? What did MLK say back in 1966, and what did he mean? Regardless, the unfortunate point is that we have come such a short way on the journey towards Health Equity. We still have a system where the wealthy and connected have one level of service and the poor, working poor and middle class get another. We still have a system of clinics and an ever rotating mix of providers and caregivers for the poor, and private providers with appointments and posh offices for those with wealth. We still have a system of fancy new single rooms for the wealthy, insured patients with complex diseases and overcrowded stretchers in the hallway for the ill, poor and disenfranchised. At what point do we restart the conversation and get back to accountable care that is focused on changing our payment model to honor and pay for primary and mental health care services?
We can start by making it better for all who are under 400 percent of the poverty line in this country, by making sure that they are covered by all-inclusive Medicaid plans. We can make it better for all older adults so that they don’t have to worry about their health or health care as they age. Medicare clearly needs to cover all your care without supplements and must include prescriptions and dental care.
Our current system that allows insurance companies to require patients to “cover” as much as the first $9,000 (so called “deductibles”) of their yearly health care ON TOP of paying their monthly premiums is ridiculous and serves the for-profit insurance industry instead of patients. We need to think of our healthcare system as a system whose goal is to provide great care, not a system that is focused on making money.
The global COVID pandemic and the more than 800,000 lives lost should have ignited a flame and a passion to discuss and work for meaningful change in our healthcare system. Instead we are stuck with radicalized anti-vax and anti-science right-wing talk show hosts (who are vaccinated), and their followers who continue to spew hate and misinformation for no reason other than to keep power rather than inspire and advocate for compassionate, reparational change.
Sadly, on this day of his remembrance MLK would be disappointed and frustrated by the callous lack of progress toward better Health and Healthcare for all in America. We can do better.