Healthcare Disparities Are An Emerging Problem In A First World Country

Healthcare Disparities Are An Emerging Problem In A First World Country

Reasoning with mortality in a first world country.
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I'm not going to fill this article with statistics and "Did You Know" facts. I think that's the point in healthcare where we lose the sense of patient care and fall into stocks and marketing. That should not be a priority in healthcare. I've learned, unfortunately, through personal experience, that healthcare does revolve around that.

So let me start off by saying that I am shocked and perplexed that even in first world countries, patients die due to policies and quotas, approvals, evaluations, and signatures. Insurance companies deny patients the critical care that they need on the mere basis of this checklist. They assign patients certain dates on which their plans will "go into effect" and quite frankly some (if not most) of these patients do not have that time. All they can do is remain calm and wait. And if that wasn't all, their doctors also have to suffer at the hands of these aforementioned policies. They have to make phone calls and seek out loopholes.

For example, I have encountered a patient in the oncology ward who could not see her oncologist and cardiologist on the same date because her "insurance did not approve and authorize the visits." That is preposterous. This poor woman and her family probably have other things on their mind...like treatment. Getting to appointments and sticking to their medication regimen should be their only concern.

On another more personal note, while I tried to get one of my own family members the treatment they need for a serious illness, I was told to wait for approvals. I think if it weren't for the team of doctors who have been so supportive, I would have been a mere case number. A worried family member who remained on a waitlist. Wasting valuable time (I was told three months) that could be spent on getting treatment.

I am a very patient individual but these policies have taught me that being patient gets you no results. You have to be assertive and speak with authority (while still being kind and not outright rude). And that is hard. At times, these people on the other end of the line have treated me like a child. But I've had to remain calm, collected, and cogent. And persistent.

But seriously! Who has time for all that nonsense? My top priority should not have been that. It should've been to make my family member comfortable. The doctor should not have to spend hours being transferred from office to office to get their patient the treatment they need. There are immigrant patients who have family members who do not even speak English. They do not have a grasp of these procedures. There are patients who have no family and they cannot be put on hold. There are patients who need medication but their insurance does not allow their doctors to refill their prescription because "it's too soon for a refill. You picked your medication up 20 days ago. You need to wait." No. They. Cannot. Wait.

People in third world countries die because they do not have access to good doctors. I did not know that people in first world countries also die because they have to wait to get access to good doctors. We have a gift. But no means to get the gift. The gift is on the other end and there is no proper bridge that connects the patient to that gift. And for that reason, I say such a gift is not a gift at all, but rather a mirage.

So until all of these grievances are addressed, no matter how great the doctors are, we will always have high mortality rates and not because of medicine, but due to the lack thereof.

Cover Image Credit: freestocks.org / Unsplash

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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I Don't Smoke Weed Because I've Learned My Lesson, I Don't Need To Repeat It

The dumbest decision of my life formed my lifelong opinion on weed.

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Let's be realistic here, most of you guys have tried it, and if you haven't, you most likely will come across it at some point in your life. Yes, I'm talking about weed. Dope. Kush. Marijuana. Mary Jane. Whatever you call it, you know what I'm referring to. It's a pretty crazy thing, right? A college student who doesn't like getting high? Who would've thought?

There's a reason why I can't smoke weed, and why every time I do smoke weed, I turn into a complete anxious mess and end up calling my parents asking to be taken to the hospital.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm using this platform to tell a bunch of strangers why I don't smoke weed, and I know I'm definitely just asking to get shit on by the majority of my friends who already think I'm a tweak. I also know that I'm about to get hardcore judged by some of you for the ill-advised decision I made my sophomore year of high school. But trust me, there's no need for that because I've learned my lesson. It truly is the one day of my life that I wish I could do over, because here I am, nearly 4 years later, still coming to terms with the consequences of my sixteen-year-old stupidity.

It was the day I got my driver's license, and I was pumped to finally be able to drive around without my dad nagging at me from the passenger seat. So, as any newly-licensed juvenile would, I picked up my friend for a joyride.

It started off as a pretty normal day. We drove to the city, blasting music obnoxiously with the windows down, screaming at pedestrians, completely immersed in the freedom we were handed.

We were both high off of the idea that we were on our own. Driving around on that sunny day in December, we felt invincible with our newfound independence. Nothing could have ruined our mood during that drive, not even rush hour traffic.

However, that feeling quickly came crashing down.

After returning home from our adventure, we established that we didn't want our fun to end, so naturally, we decided to get high. As inexperienced sophomores, we didn't exactly have the equipment to do so, so we reverted to our next best option: sitting in my drawer was an edible that I had bought months prior from God knows where. It was a pot brownie concealed from my parents with crinkled tinfoil tucked away in my desk. I still have no clue why I had an edible on hand. I'm almost positive I didn't even know what weed was at the time.

My friend and I contemplated back and forth over whether or not we should take the edible. We didn't know much about weed brownies, or weed in general, but we figured that if we each had half, we would be feeling goooood in no time.

We split the edible in half and each took a piece. Of course, we thought it started working right away. My friend and I were elated and giddy over having our first experience taking an edible. After some time, we thought we were high (we weren't) and decided to go for another drive.

It was dark, and we were about fifteen minutes away from my house when I attempted to do a 3-point turn and continue on with our joyride. It was then that my mind went completely blank, and I forgot how to drive. My vision started to blur, my hands were tingling, and I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I couldn't remember how to use the gearshift, and that was the moment I started to freak out.

I got myself together for a second and told my friend that we had to go home. I started driving in my panicked state until my friend notified me that I had driven through a stop sign without even noticing. I parked my car on the side of the road and took some deep breaths. I thought I was going absolutely crazy. I then got back into the car and turned to my friend and told her she needed to drive me home, but of course, she didn't know how to drive yet. Classic.

It didn't occur to me that I was high out of my mind from the edible I had taken earlier. As the hypochondriac I was (and still am), I went straight to the conclusion that I was having some sort of mental episode which was causing my brain to deteriorate. My heart was pounding out of my chest at a rate that I can only attribute to what a heart attack must feel like, and I was convinced that something was physically wrong with me. Then for the last time, I attempted to drive again, but with little success as I realized I had no clue how to get back to my house. I was stoned.

We pulled into a church parking lot and I stopped the car. I slumped down into my seat and focused on my erratic heartbeat as I turned to my friend and asked her to call an ambulance for me. This by far was the scariest moment of my life, as I thought I was seconds away from death. I felt completely disconnected from my own body and had no clue as to what the hell was going on.

Looking back, my reaction was pretty ridiculous knowing that I was just high off my ass. However, as a young amateur, it was the most terrifying point in my life.

My friend didn't understand what was going on, but she didn't want to call anyone because she was scared of us getting in trouble. In my irrational state, all I wanted to do was talk to my mom, so against my friend's better judgment, I called my parents who were at a movie fairly close to where we were.

I was completely frantic and between sobs as I explained to my mom I was having a heart attack and that she needed to get me to a hospital. Of course, my mom being in a sober state of mind, stayed calm and tried to assess the situation. Here's how the phone call played out:

Me: "Mom you need to come and get me I'm dying. I'm having a heart attack and I don't know what's going on."

My mom (equally as frantic): "Maya you are having a panic attack -- you are fine."

Me: "You have no idea what's going on right now so how would you know?"

My mom: "Well, unless you took something it sounds like you are having a panic attack"

Me: "Mom... I need to tell you something. I took an edible, like with weed in it."

My mom: "Darn it, Maya."

My parents quickly came to pick up their dumbass daughter and equally guilty friend. On the incredibly awkward car ride back to my house, my dad explained to me that I wasn't, in fact dying, but that I was having a panic attack from the edible I had taken. I tried to reason with him and explain that my heart was giving out, but then he explained the symptoms of a panic attack and that's when I started to understand. The rest of that night consisted of me sitting on the couch hyperventilating and unable to swallow, as my parents stood by laughing at me while still holding their disapproving glares.

I'm sure you can probably guess what happened next: after a good night sleep, I was lectured and scolded for hours the next day, and of course, I suffered the consequences of being grounded just in time for New Years. Oh, and I also lost my driving privileges for quite some time. But that was a given.

For those of you who have never experienced the negative effects of marijuana, I wouldn't expect you to understand. You probably think I'm dramatic and that I just "can't hang." Which is true, I really can't hang, but now at least you know the reason why.

I would give anything to take back the stupid decision I made when I was sixteen because the choices I made that night signed me up for a lifelong, binding contract with generalized anxiety and panic disorder. However, that's a story for another time.

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