When Traditional Healthcare Doesn’t Work, What Then?

For as long as I can remember, I have heard proponents of the U.S. healthcare system say that it is among the best systems in the world. While I agree our system is superior to a single payer system, I still find it ironic that traditional healthcare doesn’t work for so many people. And when this is the case, what then?

TIME Magazine ran a piece last year discussing data from a Harris poll demonstrating that 70% of American adults believe the healthcare system has failed them in some way, shape, or form. I read the study. Guess what I discovered: among all the complaints people reported, very few actually had anything to do with treatments or outcomes.

Nearly all of the complaints were related to healthcare costs or the hassle and inconvenience of delivery. Perhaps the structure of the poll itself prevented people from commenting on treatment quality and efficacy.

Healthcare Is Too Expensive

More than half of the poll respondents gave the U.S. healthcare system a grade of ‘C’ or below. The biggest complaint was lack of affordability at 61%. Rounding out the top five were:

  • Profit focus – 40%.
  • Insurance coverage access – 30%.
  • Difficulty understanding insurance coverage – 28%.
  • Lack of coordinating care between providers – 14%.

I did not participate in the pole myself. I suppose if I had, my number one complaint would also be cost. But a close second would be our healthcare system’s tendency to rely so heavily on pharmacological therapies. Go to the doctor for just about any problem and you’re likely to walk away with a prescription. And if a prescription will not cut it, plan on a surgical procedure.

Traditional Treatments Are Questionable

My objection to traditional treatments is that most of them are questionable, at best. For example, how frequently have you been prescribed an antibiotic to combat a viral infection? Antibiotics have absolutely no effect on viruses. So why do doctors give out antibiotic prescriptions for colds and flus?

Our solution to everything seems to be medication. But even medication comes with its own side effects and complications. Comedians have written entire routines about possible medication side effects. And of course, there is the old idiom that says sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Win traditional treatments don’t get the job done, what are patients to do? Here are some of the options:

  • Get a second opinion.
  • Investigate complementary therapies.
  • Find an advocacy or support group.
  • Investigate alternative healthcare models.
  • Insist on shared decision making with healthcare providers.
  • Seek out complete or comprehensive care.

It can be challenging to find healthcare providers willing to look at alternatives. Utah’s KindlyMD is one such provider and an exception to the rule. KindlyMD helps Utah patients navigate the state’s Medical Card system. When patients have their cards, KindlyMD works with them to get the most from plant-based medicines and a selection of complementary therapies.

People Should Have Choices

I guess what troubles me most about the American healthcare system is that patients are not given the choices they need and deserve. Our system is largely controlled by insurance companies and federal regulators who pretty much decide on the care people can get – unless they can afford to pay for their own care out of pocket.

It’s not right that insurance won’t cover many of the services KindlyMD and similar clinics offer. It’s not right that patients need endless referrals to get something as simple as a transforaminal injection for back pain. But that’s the way our system works. Traditional healthcare lets people down every day. Then what are they supposed to do?

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