Healthcare, disbelief and credibility

Have you noticed much attention to a possible correlation between the corporatization of health care in this country and diminishing confidence in the delivery of medical services that we are seeing today? Me either.  Yet, the occurrence of one in parallel to the other should not be dismissed.  From my own experience, I have seen one health services corporation in my area literally swallow every other service in the sector.. no doubt under the guise of ‘increasing efficiencies.’ When I go to the pharmacy, the number of bags waiting for customers is astounding and unsettling. Are we all that ill? I wonder.  I have seen prescription bags multiply – as if self-replicating –  since that medical corporation has settled in.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m enormously thankful for the sophistication and accessibility of our medical systems.  I am thankful to be in a country where such services are available, especially if one has health insurance. However, one can’t help but notice that the more you have health insurance, the more tests are suggested, the more medications are recommended, the higher number of surgeries that are possible and often pushed.

Part of the answer to the public refusal of vaccines and suspicion of government in general can, unfortunately, be laid at the feet of the great marriage between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. I don’t much blame the doctors, though.  They were ambushed some thirty years ago and put into vassalage by the increasingly powerful and ubiquitous Big Pharma. I don’t totally blame Big Pharma, either. It is wonderful what well-financed medical and other scientific research can bring to society, and I wouldn’t want to see that end.

BUT.  When people see themselves aggressively targeted for medical services, some of which they haven’t even dreamed of, believe me that at some level, conscious or unconscious, they know it is not all about an altruistic concern for their health. The bonding of medical services with private, corporate approaches to service is disastrous in ways that many have not noticed. The medical professions loses CREDIBILITY when their work is more tied to a profit motive than to a healing and service approach.  Hard for the public to believe that it is all for their own good! It is starting to feel vaguely predatory. No wonder people are suspicious of vaccines.

Pushing medications, services and sign-ups to un-necessary networks, newsletters, and announcements leads the public to see themselves as the ‘mark’ they are in this process. So I’m suggesting here that the work ahead of us is more than even simply changing the payment system and organization of our health insurance. I also urge us all to reflect, really, on what services are or are not really necessary. This year I had two tests ordered for me without my knowledge that I didn’t need and didn’t ask for. I caught this in time, but I get it. Everybody wants to make their dollar out of the deal. Why is it that we have so much medicine circulating around and as a nation are so much sicker than most other industrialized northern nations?

We need lifestyle changes, and we need to figure out how not to be marks in a predatory health care delivery system, or change it. What do you think?

Published by wendywilsonfall

Wendy Wilson Fall is Associate Professor and Program Chair of the Africana Studies Program at Lafayette College. Her research engages questions of socio-cultural change, ethnic identity, and multi-sited historical narratives. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters addressing these themes in the context of nomads in West Africa and the African diaspora of the U.S. Wilson-Fall is from Washington, D.C. and has traveled extensively in Africa, particularly in West Africa where she lived for more than ten years. She's also traveled to Madagascar, Egypt and Morocco as well as in Europe.

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