It’s not just that the people with health conditions are getting more expensive, it’s also that they’re getting fewer opportunities for care.
There’s no guarantee that the doctor’s visit won’t take place; there’s no way to know if a patient is in pain or has a severe infection.
The quality of the doctor, as well as the quantity of time devoted to the patient’s care, has a major impact on how quickly you can see a doctor and whether you’ll receive the proper care.
And while many of the things we take for granted—from food to transportation to housing—are getting more and more expensive with each passing year, we’re not getting more access to the care we need.
“The quality of health care is declining at a time when we need it most,” says Dr. Michael J. Dolan, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re spending more on healthcare, and we’re spending less on health care.”
The reasons behind the decline are complex, but many are rooted in the fact that we’re no longer building health care infrastructure.
For the past few decades, health systems across the country have built up infrastructure that has allowed them to treat their populations with the most care, even when they are sick.
But in recent years, they’ve been overtaken by the new medical model, where the patient is treated like a service, which is why the number of people receiving care has fallen to its lowest level in decades.
As a result, people with conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, and depression are facing more severe and expensive treatment.
In addition, we now have a generation of patients who are less likely to be able to afford the treatments they need.
The results are troubling.
“It’s like a giant balloon is bursting,” says Dolan.
“Our economy is doing really well, but we’re starting to see some of these conditions worsen.”
That means that when it comes to getting the medical care we deserve, the only thing standing in the way of that success is how much money we have.
“This is really a crisis,” says Daniel Hodge, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“If we’re going to get better care, we need to start spending more.”
What can we do to get more?
The first step is to change how we think about care.
“Health care is a social good,” says Hodge.
“You get to care for other people, you get to pay for their care, and you have the right to expect that care will be delivered to your health and not your financial well-being.”
As Hodge explains, the idea that people can’t afford to have good health care and should just be left to fend for themselves is “a classic straw man argument.”
He argues that, when it’s in your health, it should be treated like any other medical treatment.
The other thing that can help us understand how health care can be made affordable is to understand how it was originally conceived and how it has evolved over time.
“In the early 1900s, when we started thinking about how the doctor would treat a patient, the first thing we thought was that they should have to be in a wheelchair,” he says.
“Now we realize that the goal is to treat patients who can walk.”
But how did we get here?
How does the idea of the patient becoming a service evolve over time?
To find out, Hodge and his colleagues analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and looked at trends in wages, hours worked, and other factors over the past several decades.
They found that as we’ve seen the number and quality of services increase over time, so has the number for people with disabilities.
As the years go by, the percentage of people with a disability continues to grow, while the number that need services goes down.
That’s a result of the way we’ve built the health system, and it’s important to remember that this was a societal effort.
People who needed care in the early years didn’t have the option to choose between medical care and other forms of care, so they were able to get their care at the expense of others.
When people with certain conditions get more and better care than others, it means that we’ve reached a tipping point where people with different medical conditions can’t have it both ways.
“There is a gap between the demand for health care in general and the availability of it,” Hodge says.
And that gap could be closing soon.
“I think we’re in a tipping moment,” he adds.
“What we’re doing is not just creating the infrastructure to meet the demand of people who need health care, but also giving them the tools to do it.”
The health system is failing people like Dr. Jeffrey Hinton.
When he got sick in 2009, he went to a doctor who told him he had diabetes and needed to see a specialist. He