How Broken Does Health Care Have To Get?

I am sitting here in tears, gut-wrenchingly grieving, as I sit in witness to the slow death of my profession.

First I read this article, which says that this year, the cost of insuring a family of four now exceeds $20,000/year. Who can afford that in these times? And what are they getting for all that money? Thirteen minutes with a frustrated, rushed, overworked doctor who doesn’t have time to listen?

Then I read this article that says that the United States spends more than any other country on health care but only has the eighth-lowest life expectancy. Japan, on the other hand, spends significantly less and has the longest life expectancy. More health care expenditure does not equal better health care. Period.

Then I read this article about how the Supreme Court may overturn President Obama’s not-quite-there-but-at-least-it’s-a-start health care reform policy. And it breaks my heart, because if that happens, after Obama sacrificed so much political capital to try to manifest real (if not quite good enough) reform, the message to politicians is “Don’t go there. You’ll never make change and you’ll ruin your career in the process.” Yes, we need universal health care for everyone and this new policy doesn’t get us there, but it’s a start. If we don’t at least start to turn this sinking ship around, we’ll have a Titanic disaster on our hands.

Then I read this article about how 9 out of 10 doctors would not recommend becoming a doctor.

And now I’m officially in tears, blubbering away here at my computer because we have lost our way.

What’s It Gonna Take?

It begs the question of how bad will it have to get? What will make us stop the madness? With all this political rhetoric, all these profit-hungry managed care insurance companies trying to suck every last dime out of consumers, doctors, and hospitals, every greedy pharmaceutical company trying to score the next Viagra so they can please their investors, all these ambulance-chasing malpractice attorneys driving up health care costs, with all these third parties getting in the way of the sacredness of the doctor-patient relationship, how are we going to heal our health care system?

How far is rock bottom?

Will it take having health insurance premiums and pharmaceutical costs rise so high that only the elite can afford to be insured or take prescription drugs? Then, when all those uninsured people get sick and show up at hospitals unable to pay their bills, will the doctors and hospitals be forced to quit and close their doors because they’ll be unable to cover their overhead without insurance reimbursement? Will doctors start becoming baristas at Starbucks, warning young, idealistic, coffee-drinking pre-med students to steer far, far away from the practice of medicine, and if so, who will take care of us when we get sick? Will we wind up with a serious shortage of physicians? And then, when that happens and politicians, leaders of managed care insurance companies, pharmaceutical CEOs, and lawyers get sick and have to drive four hours to the one remaining hospital, where they’re forced to wait three days in order to be treated for their heart attack, will they finally call off the wolves in Washington and demand change?

Will health care go down like the real estate industry? Will it go down like the banking industry, when everybody just decided to stop paying their inflated mortgages? Will Washington then be forced to bail out the health care industry like they did Wall Street and Detroit?

How bad is this going to get before it gets better, before we remember that health care is not real estate or banking or auto sales? Health care is about life and death. It’s about quality of life. It’s about healing and wholeness. It’s about being spirits who live in bodies that sometimes get sick and need loving attention.

As a society, we’ve decided that while preventative health care is available only for those who can afford it, emergency health care is a right, not a privilege, so if any of the currently 40 million uninsured people show up in an ER having a heart attack, they’ll get treatment. But Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia suggests that perhaps we need to rethink this agreement, that perhaps if someone uninsured comes into a hospital suffering, we just kick them out or watch them die.

Really Justice Scalia? Is modern medicine going to go the way of veterinary medicine – only those who can afford treatment get it and we just put everybody else to sleep?

Uh uh. Not if I have anything to do with it.

The Holiness Of Health Care

Health care is about a sacred doctor-patient relationship. After all, medicine is a spiritual practice. Illness is a spiritual journey.

You can’t legislate this stuff in Washington. Health care reform must be a grass roots effort. Doctors and patients must reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Politicians, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and lawyers need to listen up – so please hear me. It’s time to put money, greed, and the desire to win aside. We’ve lost sight of what really matters. As a society, we’ve forgotten that health care is our most basic right, not some privilege only rich people can afford.

Health care is holy – or it’s supposed to be. Feeling whole and healthy is your birthright.

What Can We Do?

As patients on a sinking ship, what can we do?

You can learn how to make the body ripe for miracles, as I’m writing about in my next book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House 2013) and as I spoke about in my TEDx talk. You can ask your body what it needs to heal – truly, deeply, at the root – and then be brave enough to take action and make healing changes in your life. You can resist the temptation to close your heart when you face serial heartbreak, as we all do, because keeping your heart open is preventative medicine and harboring resentment, anger, and unexpressed grief makes you sick. You can live in alignment with your truth, which not only prevents disease, it can cure it.

We can reclaim the lost heart of the doctor-patient relationship. We can make room for the sacred in medicine. We can stop making science our only God, which only drives up health care costs without making people more healthy. We can get back to the root of what it means to be in a healing relationship with someone who loves you and has your back.

When we do this, health care costs will go down. Doctors will feel more in touch with their callings, which will bring them more job satisfaction. Happier doctors will make happier patients, and happy patients will be less likely to sue someone who truly cares about them, even if they make a mistake.

The answers don’t lie in Washington. They lie within us.

What Do You Think?

I’d love your feedback. Please, dish!

Ever hopeful,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.

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Vernon W.
Vernon W.3 years ago

The United States does not have a health system; it has a "disease" system. US doctors are trained to treat diseases, not necessarily to promote health.That is why doctors rarely promote alternative health systems and health supplements. Another major problem with the US disease system is that it has become a money making system, rather than a health promotion system. Most doctors, drug makers and health insurance companies are more concerned about making money than the health of the patient. Finally, by treating each life as sacred, too much money and effort is spent delaying death rather than allowing people to end their lives with less suffering.

Kathy K.
Kathy K.3 years ago

Unfortunately, what you describe Lissa, seems exactly like what we're heading towards. And it's both sad and scary. Sigh.

Jan G.
Jan G.3 years ago

Well said, Donna F. While planning your personal wellness strategy (which we should all be doing) also bear in mind that an independent Rutgers research doc as far back as the early 1990's illustrated that even our fresh fruit and veggies off the shelf are so denourished that we actually receive less than 15% of the micronutrients that we should be expecting from these healthy foods.

Donna F.
Donna F.3 years ago

Terrific article and comments! I believe it is every person's individual responsibility to push away from the TV with its advertisements for this pill and that pill ("Ask your doctor if you need...."), and push away from sugar-laden processed foods and empty, harmful soft drinks, and push the pedals of a bicycle, or just walk somewhere for Health. If people think there's no connection between our Food and our Drugs within the FDA, they're wrong! We are pawns in the money-making scheme that is American "health care."

Jan G.
Jan G.3 years ago

My wife and I are considered to be freaks: turning 66 and 69 respectively, none of us use any medication whatsoever and are healthier than we were 20 years ago when we still relied on "the system" for our wellness. We are very happy to read that there are many others who are seeing the light. We must stand together to get the message out there - take reponsibility for your own health and wellness.

Jan G.
Jan G.3 years ago

It's not only the US, it's all over the world. Fortunately there are those, even doctors, who are beginning to realise that we will have to move away from a reactive to a pro-active approach, but they are few and far between.

Linda Indyke
Linda Indyke3 years ago

I, too, am a health care professional, within one of the professions at the heart of health care - nursing. I believe that this health care system is broken and has been broken for years. I have watched it sink to the point that people in severe need of health care services have truly been turned away at the door. Health care facilities have struggled after managed care organizations have decided not to pay for health care because it occurred at the wrong place, even when the care spelled the difference between life and death. I knew of a child whose face was mutilated being denied facial reconstruction surgery because the company, in its wisdom, declared the procedure to be cosmetic. What I have seen and heard and what has happened to me, a member of a health care profession, could fill a book. Bottom line: the US health care system needs to be fixed and removed from for-profit, corporate hands before we face a social disaster.

Henry Schrieber
Henry Schrieber3 years ago

Let's call it what it actually is Sickness care, not Health care. Our bodies are not suffering from a shortages of some patented nostrum that Bigpharma pays an Allopathic doctor to prescribe at 1000% mark-up, that has side affects that kill over 100,000 people each year, and they bought politicians that wrote bills that make them immune from 'wrongful death' suits.
Mother Earth provides a cure for every Dis-ease. Alternative practitioners are the only ones who are taught about nutrition. Allopathic doctors are clueless.
Bigpharma works to keep clients sick, so as to a steady supply of clients.Their nostrums do not cure
They might provide some temporary relief, and need a refill every month. Avoid hospitals, visit inmates ( patients) elecronically.

Cee Moorhead
Cee Moorhead3 years ago

KUDOS, Lissa! I too believe that "promoting health without encouraging others to seek wholeness is an exercise in futility. Not until we realize that our bodies are mirrors of our interpersonal, spiritual, professional, sexual, creative, financial, environmental, mental, and emotional health will we truly heal."

Now how the heck do we get the other members of your profession on board?

Cee Moorhead
Cee Moorhead3 years ago

The doctor/patient relationship is based on trust. When you can no longer trust your doctor, where do you turn? One PCP is as bad as another, in my experience. Dr. Oz, God bless him, urges his audience to confront their doctors with, of all things, the truth! It took gumption on my part, but I did it. I told my PCP that the last test she ordered was unnecessary! and the drug she prescribed did more harm than good! Lo and behold, she readily admitted that she was limited to prescribing only what insurance covered and that she was bound by what "the science of medicine" dictated. Sad. So now I'm an ARMY OF ONE, taking responsibility for my own good health and using her limitations to my advantage. I've seen changes... she's now LISTENING to me, imagine that, and offering helpful advice, and just maybe I'll be one of the lucky ones who gets better, instead of just feeling hopeless and depressed.