By DeJeune O'Garro • March 29, 2019•Writers in Residence, Issues, Other Issues
Hi, my name is DéJeune, and I’m a health care enthusiast. Ironically, I don’t like hospitals. I never have, and I probably never will. As a pastor, my father frequented hospitals, visiting members of his congregations, sharing communion, and praying for their families and wellbeing, but it wasn’t until my mother suffered a fatal heart attack that I really started avoiding hospitals. Whenever possible, I stayed with an older sibling or asked my dad to schedule his “sick and shut in” visits during after school events. I was woefully unsuccessful because, my newly widowed father brought me almost everywhere he went, including to what felt like an endless number of treks through the drab hallways of a hospital ward.
To this day, I experience a pang of anxiety or fear whenever I enter a hospital, but through my studies (biomedical engineering) and subsequent (more positive) experiences, I began to see the broader healthcare system with new eyes. I began to appreciate the duality of an imperfect system that seeks to heal and prevent but also treat and diagnose. I gained a better understanding of the behemoth that is “health care,” and I hope to help you do the same.
Meet, “Health(s)care,” a blog that seeks to inform and uplift readers to better understand the health care landscape and to use that information to take a more active role in managing their health. Health(s)care is not your average health and wellness blog. It focuses more on what happens behind the scenes in health care and how that impacts each of us. After all, the U.S. health care system can be overwhelming. Made up of a complex web of players, there are no simple answers in this space, little to no low hanging fruit.
What are we up against? Patients often dread seeing their doctor and the resulting bill. Far too many people lack access to any health care, yet alone quality care. Providers (i.e., doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals and institutions) are burdened with administrative responsibilities that distract from time with patients. Aspiring providers are laden with student loan debt, and we don’t have enough providers to begin with. No one knows how much anything costs, but we all know it’s too much. On each side of the aisle, policy makers (sometimes) aim to bridge divides to benefit everyone in the system. Employers have intervened to help with insurance coverage, but this model drives the cost of doing business up while potentially depressing wages. Insurers attempt to strike a balance between risk and reward, so they’ve taken matters into their own hands, dictating standards of care and vertically and horizontally integrating for increased leverage. Enter tech companies (big tech, high tech, consumer tech) trying to solve the access-quality-cost conundrum.
Call me crazy, but that’s exactly what I love about health care. There’s no shortage of issues to tackle, and each issue is complex in its own right. In Health(s)care, we’ll explore the impact of these issues, often with the help of experts and with a special focus on issues impacting women and aspiring or current lawyers. I hope you’ll join me!
For more information on the background and structure of the U.S. health care system, see:
- Khan Academy: Healthcare system overview (8min video)
- Kaiser Family Foundation: YouToons, Health Insurance Explained (5min video)