Jill McLeod: Health care should be affordable, meaningful

October 4, 2013 

I am a health care provider here in Merced. The recent political events and the opening day of Obamacare have prompted me to submit this letter.

I talk with my patients every day about their thoughts on the Affordable Care Act, as well as their personal experience of health care services. I hear almost no positive responses. Rarely do I hear, “I have confidence in our ability to design a system of competent affordable care and I have a wonderfully helpful relationship with my doctor.”

I would liken our current predicament to the whole nation being told that it must sign up for a “not-free, but pretty affordable” lunch. But the lunch has turned out to be overcooked, oversalted peas that nobody likes.

I find it interesting that all of the unending coverage of health care reform bears a striking absence of discussion about several issues: Firstly, per capita health care spending in our country far, far exceeds that of any other nation, yet our life expectancy is somewhere near the bottom-middle.

Secondly, we all suffer from the twin problems of significant under-care and frequent over-care; that is, poor access to basic medical care and preventive services as well as exposure to expensive, risky, unnecessary diagnostic testing and procedures. Both problems are costly to us all in terms of monetary spending and preservation of lives.

I believe that health care reform should include a discussion about how health care can be not only affordable, but meaningful. We need a complete paradigm shift. Currently, our system reflects an illness model. Perhaps a health preservation-education model would foster the sea change we desperately need. Health care reform should reflect the unique needs of individual communities and should be a collaborative, dynamic community asset.

– Jill McLeod, Merced

Editor’s Note: The writer is a family practice nurse practitioner and certified physician assistant.

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