Like soldiers marching, we each charge ahead to our own cadence. And like soldiers, we have a mission. Our goal and focus is to be seen, heard, treated with respect and to be happy and healthy.
No matter where we are in life, health is an important part of this march.
Health impacts how we march, when we march and where we march. Health is the cornerstone of our march; it is our drum beat.
Whose drum do you march to?
What’s most interesting is that sometimes there are factors that force us to march to the beat of a drum beat by someone else.
Take for example health insurance.
Based on what health insurance you have, your options may be limited to what types of services you can access. You are forced to make decisions based on what the insurance says you can do. You are limited in your choices, and in some cases may be limited in your treatment. And sometimes, how much money you make can be influential on how covered you are with insurance. Consider the graph above:
“Adults in low- and moderate-income families are more likely to be uninsured, to lack a regular source of health care, and to struggle to get the health care they need compared to those in higher-income families.”
This report from the Commonwealth Fund found that 57 percent of people in low-income families (earning less than $29,726 for a family of four or 133 percent of poverty) were uninsured for a period of time in the past year.
Obviously if you cannot afford health insurance, you will have even more limited options.
Based on where you live, you may have limited options for who treats you. It is well established that there is a workforce shortage and distribution problem for many healthcare providers. In the map to the left, it clear where there are shortages of primary care physicians by county. One can also see the “mal-distribution” of providers across this state. While Indiana is the example below, maps and problems like this are found throughout the country. Where we live can sometimes be the drum.
Who should own the drum? Who should lead? How can we manage who beats the drum?
In healthcare, it sometimes feels like we have very little control over issues like these. However, knowing these issues allows us to better recognize what we have control over and what we do not. And yes, there are many issues in healthcare that we can have control over.
So what do we have control over?
1) We have our voice and we have our stories: Letting others know how some of these issues impact you is an important role for us to have in transforming healthcare. We can be heard.
2) We know what the problems are and can articulate possible solutions: Being able to talk about what is not working and what is working is a critical skill to have and one way to impact change in healthcare. We can help.
3) We can “vote” with our feet: When options allow, we can “vote” by going to providers that foster patient-centered care. We can make choices that encourage healthy living (e.g. going to grocery stores that support local produce). We can lead.
So as we all collectively march through life, let us not forget to pay attention to whose drum it is we follow.
Let us not forget to pay attention to the role of health in this march.