Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Healthcare, Finance, And Poverty: Fault Lines Intersected

Solutions to problems are generally sought from within the problems themselves. Two recent examples are healthcare and finance. In both cases, the solutions are believed to be better-structured and regulated systems. In blogs, articles and speeches, I have stressed that — while there are myriad ways that healthcare can be improved — the real solutions to high healthcare spending lie outside of healthcare.

Poverty and its associated manifestations are at the core of the healthcare spending crisis. The high costs of caring for the poor will continue to overwhelm the system, no matter how it’s structured and improved. Rather than looking for solutions through changes in process and regulation, the major solutions to healthcare’s excessive spending reside in areas such as K-12 education, neighborhood safety, and the creation of jobs that can lift low-income families from the cycle of poverty.

Simply stated, the U.S. does not and will not have the resources to provide equitable care for those among us who confront inequitable circumstances in every other aspect of their lives.

Raghuram Rajan, a distinguished professor of finance at the University of Chicago and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has come to the same conclusion about our financial system. In his new book, Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, he describes how cheap credit was a mistaken remedy for the consequences of poverty. In addressing its financial future, the U.S. will have to place greater emphasis on educating its young and creating a safety net for its poor.

Neither cheap credit for those who are too poor to pay it back nor costly healthcare for those whose poverty creates the demand for more, nor even more primary care physicians to treat their woes, can hold our society together. The fault lines of income inequality are the nation’s greatest challenge.

*This blog post was originally published at PHYSICIANS and HEALTH CARE REFORM Commentaries and Controversies*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »