Our society runs on capitalism, few would argue that idea. And the roots of capitalism run everywhere -- wherever there is profit to be made, someone will come along and figure out a way to make a dollar. It's fine if you're selling smartphones or electric cars, but what happens what health care is the target of profit mongers? The answer lies in our daily news -- health care is a booming, for-profit business.
We hear about stories in health care that are heartbreaking -- seniors who have to choose between medications and food; children in need of surgery who can't get treated because their parents can't afford insurance; American citizens having to smuggle drugs from Canada because they are too expensive here. How is it that health care, such a fundamental right in life, becomes so difficult for us?
The quest for the almighty dollar is at the heart of the debate. Health care is a multi-billion dollar business. Everyone from insurance companies, to hospitals, to pharmaceutical and medical device companies are pulling in large profits, many times at the expense (versus in the benefit of) the patients whom they're supposed to be helping.
Capitalism drives business, and business drives the need for profits. But somewhere along the line, this newfangled thing called "technology" was supposed to be our saving grace -- the means and the materials that would make our lives better, easier, cheaper, and happier. Instead, capitalism has taken hold of technology and turned it against us.
By leveraging technology's ability to lower costs, capitalism has demonstrated that indeed nothing is safe from profitability. Why sell a life saving pill for $1, when the recipient of that drug relies on it to live? Heck, let's sell that pill for $500. Who's going to complain, right?
So it bewilders me when we talk about the problems of health care, while at the same time we are victims of those same problems. The urge to make money virtually ensures that health care will always be expensive. The Affordable Care Act has made it possible for millions of uninsured Americans to get health care, yet the ACA has also created a population of detractors -- people who complain that it cuts into their profits and hurts their businesses. But which comes first, patients or profits? The fact that we have to think about it speaks volumes... sad, embarrassing volumes.
Have we lost sight of basic humanity, and become a society of "every man for himself"? If that's the case, I can't help but be depressed about the whole thing -- enough so that it makes me wonder why I'm in the business that I'm in.
There should be limits on capitalism's ability to take health care hostage, but that will never happen, mainly because our own legislators, who would enact those limits, need health care themselves! Oh, how that vicious cycle of money never ends. Capitalism helped make America the powerhouse country that it is. Like my dad always told me, money does make the world go around. And if health care was that easy to turn into a business, what other human necessity is next? Will I being paying $20 for a loaf of bread a year from now? I sure hope not...
... because it would really suck having to make road trips to Canada, just to buy groceries...