In my last post, The Best of Both Worlds I referred to the different health practitioners that I’ve been fortunate to work with. I’m glad to have so many choices. I just wish that they weren’t [at least in part] dictated by cost.
There should be more choice as to how health care dollars are spent. What if there were a system offering “flex dollars” where we would have money to spend with health care practitioners as we choose? Family doctors, specialists, hospitals, and other “Western medicine” services would have to be set up with a different fee structure than what exists now. Essentially, there would be no “free” health care. It isn’t really free anyhow. It is paid for from our tax dollars including premiums deducted from paycheques, or paid by employee or pensioner benefit plans.
That is the basic flaw in the current system. We don’t have a health-care system. We have a sick-care system, as we only tend to access it when we are sick. Except perhaps for dental care. Many, if not most of us, go to a dentist for a check-up on a regular basis. Yet we don’t do that with other aspects of our health. Why not? There are likely a myriad of reasons, but perhaps it is just the way the system is set up– to be there when we are sick, and not so much to make sure we are staying well. That takes more time.
Eastern, naturopathic, homeopathic and complementary medicine (in which I include chiropractic, osteopathy, and holistic nutrition among other practices) offer a different approach. They take more time. Initial consultations may take up to two hours, and then a treatment plan is worked out between the practitioner and the patient/client. Follow-up sessions may be only 10-15 minutes, or they may take more than an hour. When was the last time you spent that much time with your doctor?
Practitioners often work as a team in the same location. I go to the Kingston Integrated Health Care clinic (www.kihc.com). There are now seven practitioners offering a variety of service all for a fee. I don’t begrudge these fees as I know they reflect the years of training that each practitioner has undergone, the time they take to see each patient, and their research making sure the right treatment is prescribed. I just wish I could afford to use more of the services available.
If we are going to really have a health care system, then it needs to be about health, not sickness. Individually, and collectively we need to do more health promotion and practice more prevention, and we need to do it without worrying about whether we can afford it.
Although many will think this new system of “flex health dollars” as too expensive it may not wind up costing any more than is spent now by government health care ministries. Money will just be spent differently according to how people choose to take care of themselves.
Clearly what we have in place now doesn’t work as well as it was intended. We need a way to credit people for living healthier lifestyles, and give people more choices. There may be difficulties making sure there are no abuses of this new system by either practitioners or patients, and it will take some organization to make sure that it is truly fair to everyone and accessible to all who need it. The system needs to be set up to make sure it only covers those who are part of regulated health care professions. It’s time to look at other options for paying for a truly public health care system. It’s a discussion worth having. Our health depends on it.