Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Health Inequalities

Here's something pretty incredible: aside from the anorexia, I've never really had any major health problems. As a kid, I never got sick (other than a yearly winter cold), never broke a bone, never had any major spills or accidents. I think the last time I got the flu was in like third grade. (Never had a flu shot, either!)

So it has been kind of a shock to my system to suddenly be going to the doctor all the time. In the past year alone, I have seen: two therapists, three dieticians, two general practitioners, two ophthalmologists, two gynecologists, a cardiologist, and an orthopedist. Now, I'm lucky in that I'm still covered by my parents' insurance (which ROCKS and covers way more than I would have ever expected), but all the co-pays and medications can get pretty expensive. Plus all the frustrations of shuffling appointments, waiting to get in to see certain specialists, finding doctors that are covered by my insurance plan, and keeping my parents in the loop from afar (College City is several states away from Home City). OH YEAH, and also being in school with a job at the same time.

Frustrations aside, though, my point is this: I am incredibly fortunate to be able to: A) see pretty much any kind of doctor I need, and B) have access to pretty much any kind of medication I need. Although my health is probably worse than some peoples' at the point, I also probably have better health care and coverage than the vast majority of the world's population. I think this is on my mind because I recently worked on a project that involved researching pharmaceutical companies and the gross lack of medical care in developing countries. In a nutshell: any Joe Schmoe in the US can easily obtain prescriptions for medically nonessential drugs (acne creams, wrinkle reducers, Viagra, etc.) while people in places like, say, Guatemala, are dying of treatable diseases like malaria and diarrhea because they don't have access to medications, and wouldn't be able to afford them anyway. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot more incentive to mass produce expensive vanity drugs for rich people than dirt cheap malaria pills.

I don't mean to get on my soapbox and I know that I've written about this kind of thing before, it's just that these kinds of issues are things I care about a lot. The time, energy, and money that has been poured into treating my self-hatred seems pretty darn wasteful in comparison.

1 comment:

  1. You make such a good point Kaylee, health is so so important! It frustrates me to think that America has the capacity for a national health service and yet people are afraid of it. America spends more on healthcare than any other country, yet their infant mortality rate is miserably low, as is the life expectancy, general health, and happiness with the healthcare received! I'm like you, I'm one of the lucky ones, when I'm in England I'm provided for and when I'm here in America I have insurance and a financially stable family should any emergency happen. What do you think about a single payer system?