The Gross Indignity of Being Sick in America

By J. C. McBride: For More Info, Go Here…

Our healthcare system exacts a toll of humiliation from its patients.

The fractured American healthcare system only achieves maximum efficiency in one area — humiliating patients.

Healthcare may be costly, and it may be cumbersome, but it can inflict a thousand casual indignities with gleeful ease, worthy of a dystopian society in a YA novel.

Why is it so hard for a doctor to prescribe a drug that in her considered, expert opinion is necessary and have insurance cover it right away?

I know the system doesn’t care that I was suffering or that I’m busy trying to earn a living as a self-employed writer, or that I’m a work from home father of four, or that my wife is in nursing school.

Maybe that’s the problem. We have a healthcare system focused on dollars and cents — profits and losses. We collect massive amounts of data. The system tries to reduce medical errors because they increase costs, not because they cause torment.

The system charges an emotional toll on all of the healthcare workers trapped inside and treats patients as cost sources to be controlled. The humiliation of carrying your poop around town is irrelevant to the system. The frustrations of denied referrals, repeated trips to the pharmacy, and wasted time in waiting rooms and on the phone are not part of the healthcare costs detailed in bureaucratic reports.

I’m privileged. I can navigate the system and get what I need, eventually. For many people, the system itself is a health risk factor.

The greatest indignity of being sick in America is the fact that you have to be your own health advocate. That’s hard enough when you have violent diarrhea every few hours. It’s almost impossible if you are poor and chronically ill with something like diabetes or congestive heart failure.

We need to imagine ways to create a healthcare system that allows medical professionals to act in their best judgment and treats patients and with respect and dignity.

Anything short of that is gross.


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