For most of us in medicine, helping people live healthy, happy lives is at the heart of why we chose this career. We expound upon this in application essays, talk about it during interviews, and start medical school with this “calling” fresh in our minds.
Very early in our medical careers – on the wards and in the classroom
– we learn that inequality, preventable illness, and death are an
inherent part of our current private, for-profit-oriented health
We see patients receive preventable amputations due to untreated
diabetes. We see people permanently disabled by stroke because they were
unable to afford their medications.
College funds emptied out to pay
for $100,000-a-year cancer treatments. Families bankrupted and lives destroyed.
We learn that, although the United States is one of the wealthiest
countries on earth, we are also the only developed nation that does not
provide health care to all of its citizens.
We learn that we spend over 17% of our GDP – more than any country in the world – on this non-universal coverage.
We learn that medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
We learn that, despite its title, the Affordable Care Act is not truly affordable. Even after the ACA, tens of millions of people are still unable to afford insurance, and tens of thousands die every year because of uninsurance.