Risks of commercialized healthcare

Too often we hear of patients being turned away from hospitals because they lack coverage


Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

A medical centre in San Bernardino, California, recently became the epitome of healthcare commercialization.

A patient, seriously injured with stabs to the heart, was essentially kicked out of the facility by a surgeon and left in the hands of a county hospital after his condition was examined and declared stable. The patient entered cardiac arrest and died on arrival.

All too often we have heard the familiar story of patients being turned away by hospitals because they lack sufficient insurance coverage.

At Alameda Hospital in California, a woman in labour was turned away because the system showed she had no coverage. She was able to find another hospital, but not in time to prevent the damage — her child was stillborn. In Canada, things are a little different.

Healthcare commercialization speaks to the direct or indirect provision of medical services to only those who can afford it. A sector once relatively insulated from the free hand of markets is now being driven primarily by the pursuit of profit.

Many economies are largely dependent on this new aim. Historically, the health industry was more charitable until now, with the alarming proliferation of a plethora of profit driven medical facilities at both the local and global levels.

Many social pundits have conceded the culprit, irrespective of how inconspicuous, is none other than governments succumbing to international health policies.

These policies facilitate privatization of health centers, liberalization, the evident intrusion and residence of multinational companies, which have succeeded quite handsomely in marrying healthcare to business. Does this marriage depict an indisputable partnership or is the line skewed? This apparent partnership is one sided and parasitic.

“Access denied!” is the statement read to the poverty stricken and vulnerable in the society when they seek medical care.

First of all, the government cutbacks on healthcare, increasing insurance costs and employment level fluctuations have all been players in denying the vulnerable on healthcare they need.

A just society should not dare sport such a mentality. Health care should be made available to all.

In essence, a significant number of hospitals benefit from government subsidized programs and medical research paid for by taxpayers.

Don’t you think these hospitals should think of treatment of the needy as more of a moral obligation than a free reeling choice?

When medical facilities turn away their share of patients who cannot afford care, they are placing pressure of the few nonprofit driven facilities.

This inevitably clogs the system and reduces efficiency. The fairness concept is again in the red.

Why should the nonprofit public facilities bear the entire burden while the profit-driven ones scurry off with bags of money? Lastly, commercializing healthcare encourages the violation of patient integrity.

A system built on generating profits will needlessly do so at any cost. Doctors caress the trust of the patients who come to see them and are forced into ethically compromising positions; that is, they coerced into making decisions of encouraging extravagant treatment options instead of cheaper ones which might be as effective, if not more.

Drugs that are profit hinged are endorsed and the health of patients are placed in jeopardy. Private practices want to survive, so they too are pulled into the exploration and encouragement of options that benefit them more than the patients.

The commercialization of the health industry will do more bad than good. The central purpose of addressing the medical needs of those in need is being shifted to economic gain.

The vulnerable are excluded and left to fend for themselves, while the integrity of other patients who can afford treatment are being compromised. A society that places greater value on profit than on people is one that lacks foundation.

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