Americans Are Going Bankrupt From Getting Sick, The Atlantic, 15 March 2019, Olga Khazan
Doc Bills = Bankruptcy
“In April 2016, Venus Lockett was about to give a speech at an event she’d volunteered for near her home in Atlanta. She was already stressed. The previous night, she had stayed up late making her presentation, and then deleted it by mistake. As she stepped up to the podium to give her remarks, she noticed that her words were slurring. She tried to speak into the mic, but the words that came out didn’t make sense.
A friend walked up and grabbed Lockett by the arm. A few people, noticing that something wasn’t right, walked Lockett to another room and called an ambulance. Lockett, who was 57 at the time and uninsured, didn’t know whether she could or should refuse the ambulance ride or decide which hospital it would take her to.”
Through the WI lens
If you continued reading, you’ll know that Venus had suffered a mini-stroke, made a full recovery, but found herself landed a month later with a $26,000 bill from the hospital – where she had stayed a single night for ‘observation’. “Medical debt is a uniquely American phenomenon, a burden that would be unfathomable in many other developed countries,” the author observes. She examines the causes and consequences of the debts that drive many uninsured people to financial ruin, noting along the way that the costs are often quite arbitrary, while the safety nets designed to catch them – such as Medicare – also operate with a degree of randomness. This raises numerous points:
• Medical debt represents a double whammy to individual wellbeing, with ill health exacerbated by financial problems and the stress that causes.
• This piece emphasises why universal access to healthcare is so important, whether that be through the NHS or other arrangements.
• One of the best things any organization can do to ensure the wellbeing of its employees is to provide health insurance where needed – which may be to fill the gaps in the state system.
• The private sector will increasingly have a role to work alongside the public sector in healthcare – especially in preventative measures – but it must not be allowed to undermine existing provision.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”