HOW MUCH IS YOUR LIFE WORTH?


The curious nature of the human animal is often a puzzle to me. My single psychology course in college has not prepared me. The current focus on the cost of health care is once such puzzle. As a young physician our cultures disdain for the earnings of doctors is a puzzling. How much is your life worth. Like most young physicians I will be paying my educational debts until I die. So the current trend in American political and social discussion about the value of health care and the cost of a doctor’s services rings hollow. Arguably the value you put on care needed to preserve your life is more than the cost of seeing a concert or going to a nice restaurant. I hope that is the case but it manifestly is not so.
It has become a national sport to complain about how much it cost to get heath care services. This question is lacking in dept and is intellectually dishonest.
We want the best care but are not willing to pay the cost. The cost is directly in proportion to the system we have continued to vote for. We vote people into office that believe that education is a commodity whose cost should be raised to what the market will bear. Once we get to that point we arrange loans to make the needed education attainable. The natural consequence is that the cost of the end product, care delivery, must of necessity increase.
As a physician my debts from education is more than the cost of most mortgage loans and added to that the cost of the eight postgraduate years of lost earnings. The debt burden is heavy and increasingly so. The immorality of telling me to earn less is not lost on me or anyone in my position. The only question from me is, when are you going to start seeing the whole picture?
When are we as a country going to stop asking me to starting earning less. Are you willing to pay off my educational debt? The answer to both questions remains a resounding no. Instead we are sticking to the tired and disproved option of moving care to lower cost providers which generally translate into less educated provider. This is a natural extension of the commodification of health care. As patients we want dedicated care, but we are not willing to pay for it. We would rather spend on a sport or food or anything else. Health care is not french fries. French fries cost nothing, because we as a country have decided to subsidize the production, distribution and sale of potatoes. We have decided to do the opposite for health care and expect a similar result. Until you pay off my first mortgage, please do not comment on how much I earn.

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