Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poverty and Patient Rights

Does Poverty Hinder Patient Rights?

Medicine is one of the noblest professions that exist because professionals in this field are committed to taking care of and saving lives. That being said, there is also another side to medicine, the one that is not so ethical and more focused on the financial gains that can be reaped through this profession. When we talk of patient rights, one of the first and probably the most important one is the right to treatment – if someone needs medical attention, it has to be provided immediately without any question whatsoever. It does not matter that they have no money or that they’re from a lower strata of society, they are entitled to treatment in an emergency.

But then, who pays the bill at the end of the day? If you have no insurance, how on earth are the hospitals going to be able to meet their costs and pay their staff and doctors? These are ethical questions that don’t have simple answers. In the West, healthcare is mostly subsidized by the government and is largely taken care of using taxpayers’ money and insurance. So people are treated first and asked to pay later (the insurance people handle the payment). But if you cannot afford insurance, then you’re in the soup and may have to pay through your nose for a simple medical attention or do without it at all.

In most developing countries where there is no centralized healthcare, people have to pay upfront or at least demonstrate that they have the capacity to make payment, before they can even see a doctor. This means that the poor often go without treatment and live with disease till they die. There are government run hospitals where there are treated free of cost, but these are often dirty and staffed by doctors who don’t care much about their patients because they are not rich.

Where then does the question of patient rights come into play when they are being discriminated against by the very doctors who must treat them? The simple truth is this – if you don’t have money, you cannot expect quality medical attention. The new healthcare bill seeks to reform this state of affairs, but when you use public funds (taxpayers’ money) to foot the bill for the nation’s healthcare, there is bound to be dissent from all quarters, especially from those who are being taxed more in order to take care of the treatment of their indigent countrymen and illegal aliens who are not really eligible for healthcare.

Even so, it’s an issue that needs to be resolved if we truly care about the rights of patients and their right to treatment at any cost.

This post is written by Susan White, who writes on the topic of Becoming a Radiologist Technician . She welcomes your comments at her email id:

No comments: