A digital illustration by medical student David Yu.
Visits to Chicago usually include exploring attractions like the Willis Tower and Cloud Gate (“the Bean”). However, a lesser visited destination, The Hull House maybe the most important site for those of us in the medical field. A turn of the century settlement house, this museum is a reminder of how an integrated model of delivering social services and health care impacted the entire nation.
Debate about some of the most pressing issues facing our country were lost in the horse race of the 2016 presidential campaign. Among those issues was healthcare. While millions of Americans received health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 30 million remain uninsured and medical bills continue to be the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.
It’s been a hard week. Hard, of course, because this election has caused an unprecedented wave of fear across our nation. Hard because those whose lives have been invalidated by our newest president elect are already exhausted by the daily struggle of living in a hostile country. And — not to be discounted — hard because bad days in medical school seem to hunt in packs and pounce all at once.
With the 2016 presidential election just days away, debates on the personalities and as well as the policy agendas of the respective candidates have become increasingly fierce. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may both be moderates at heart, but their official policy platforms represent near-extremes of the political spectrum. This holds especially true in their proposals regarding healthcare: Trump’s proposal, entitled “Health Care Reform to Make America Great Again,” and Clinton’s, “Universal, Quality, Affordable Health Care for Everyone in America” together paint a picture of the spectrum of opinions and debates surrounding healthcare.
As I reach the conclusion of an over decade-long training process to become an internal medicine physician I find myself facing a dilemma I really did not expect. Yet while my training has prepared me to care for the sickest patients, I really don’t understand how to get paid for my work. The long and complicated medical training process does little to prepare young physicians for real world practice where a plethora of insurance, billing, documentation, and pharmaceutical companies prey on naive young physicians.
In the UK, there is currently a dispute over the new junior doctor contract. “Junior doctors” are defined as anyone in training and who is not a consultant. Many have deemed the new contract neither safe nor fair, and despite doctors striking, the Department of Health are intending to impose this contract in August 2016. On April 26, there will be a 48-hour full strike including emergency care — the first of its kind in the history of the National Health Services (NHS) — in the hope that the government will change their mind.
The Ontario government is cutting physician services. Two rounds of unilateral fee cuts, with the most recent on October 1, saw physician fees cut by 1.3 percent. Different from other public sector employees, physicians have a commitment to patient care, limiting their legal and ethical ability to take job action. As a medical student not currently earning a salary — but rather paying $24,000 a year in tuition — and junior member of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), I can only passively observe the reaction of many doctors in Ontario to these cuts, and the accompanying provincial government’s almost apathetic response.
Recently, Congress passed the so called “Doc-Fix” bill bringing about changes to the Medicare reimbursement structure. Understandably, there has been great confusion about what the implications of these changes are, particularly for future and current physicians. Here are some of the key changes taking place as a result of the bill’s passage.
Whether you’re a first-year trying to survive the last few hours, days or weeks of school, or you’re a seasoned third-year ready to start applying for residency programs, a crucial piece of legislation was just brought to Congress and it’s time to talk about it. As you may know, funding for residency programs has remained virtually stagnant since 1997. While the funding has remained consistent, enrollment in medical schools has increased nearly 30% since 2002. How have we accommodated the increased number of entering medical students in residency training programs?
Vanilla Ice famously once said “Stop, Collaborate and Listen” in his 1989 song “Ice Ice Baby.” To the same token, we all can agree that we do not do enough of collaborating and listening when it comes to the issue of health care reform: it is a complex topic with no easy fix and one which has become divided on party lines.
In the past few weeks, there has been considerable press surrounding needle exchanges and the recently declared HIV epidemic in Indiana.
The first time I talked with my friends about needle exchanges, I had a visceral reaction. “Why would you give people new needles?” I asked, completely outraged. “Isn’t that enabling and therefore doing a disservice to the very people you’re trying to help?”