I have learned a plethora of critical and important information regarding healthcare and health care policies in the United States and in the world while I took UC 105 and 106 as part of the Health Sciences Scholars Program. One of the topics that stuck out to me the most during the lecture was the topic of constrained choice. For me, this topic really resonated with me since I understood some of the constrained choices and decisions that many Americans have to go through on a daily basis.
I also saw the inequalities and disparities that caused the constrained choices which is based on a person’s socioeconomic status, availability of resources, the environment of where a person lives, and the social health policies and laws created by the government. Similar to how other Americans have constrained choices, my family and I were economically disadvantaged since it was only my mother supporting me, my younger sister, and my younger brother.
Throughout my entire life, my family and I would never have any of the luxurious items or extra cash laying around. It was always a tight money budget since my mother was the only source of income by working at a job in human service at a beauty parlor. For my family, the amount of income my mom made defined us as a family of lower-socioeconomic status, the working class. Having low income has affected the ways that I have lived my life as well as my health. For me, I did not have a choice to go to a private school where I could have received more resourced and a better education since my family lacked the money. The area that we lived in was not very affluent, so the number of taxes and funding were lower compared to more affluent districts in other areas.
This has an effect on all of the social and health policies as well as the wealth distributed over certain regions of the city. Since the area that we lived in was underfunded, the programs offered through the hospitals and through the city lacked the proper resources to help people with their health problems. For example, there was a lack of money to fund programs such as educating pregnant woman of how to best take care of themselves during pregnancy as well as offer childcare services and addiction programs. This has a ripple effect on the other aspects of life for people with constrained choices. Since my family did not have much money, the availability of the type of food and resource we can afford diminished. We had fast food and takes out more often since it was relatively cheaper and less time consuming compared to going out to buy groceries and taking the time to cook our meals in our busy lives.
Also, my mother works long hours every week. She worked almost seventy hours a week to provide for our family. This has a negative effect on her body and health overall. For this, she has developed really high blood pressure, and she developed hyperthyroidism. She was sent to the the emergency room multiple times without any secure form of health insurance which further strained the choices she could make with the money and resources available to her and to our family. Our situation is an example of how many Americans have to make certain choices based on the available options even though the options are not ideal.
Living through these experiences, the constrained choice have created health disparities for many lower income families. As future health care professionals, it is very critical to know that many people do not have equal access to resources that could benefit their health. The community and social policies currently being uphold in their areas have major effects on the health. If a person comes from a lower-income and less affluent area, that person will have higher risks of having health problems compared to a person from a higher-income and more affluent area. Telling a person to change their lifestyle habits as well as the resources they have is very difficult to do. Instead, as future health care professionals, we have to identify some of these health care disparities caused by these constrained choices. Working with the pharmaceutical companies as well as the health care policy makers would help improve the situation that the health disparities through the constrained choices of lower-income families.
Another thing that I have learned that has surprised and shocked me while taking UC 105/106 as part of the Health Sciences Scholars program is that there were many shocking and horrifying undercover experiments in the United States. Also, learning some of the Nazi experiments during the World War 2 era helped reinforce the gruesome history and the need to reform the ethics of the lab research and the experiments. In modern day, the health care system that I know have always tried to avoid harming their patients in hospitals and clinics or else the patients and their family might be able to sue for the damages done.
The physicians are under the hippocratic oath that they will do no harm to their patients. This is a widespread belief of the hippocratic oath although it never appears anywhere on that actual official document of the oath. I have always thought that physicians were never allowed to harm their patients. This brought up the whole issue of medical ethics. Medical ethics was brought up during many of the horrible experiments around the world. Many examples include the Tuskegee Syphilis Trial, the Canadian Force Sterilization, and the Baltimore Lead Paint Study.
Learning about all of the horrible experiments and the results of those experiments has made me questioned about the current state and conditions of medical ethics today. Are the medical ethics that we are upholding today being violated? Are there any undercover lab experiments and trials that the government and scientists are doing without our knowledge? Even today, I still think it is very important to know the ethics behind experimenting and researching.
There are many examples that in the gray area of ethics. Is it okay to have people drink the polluted water in Flint, Michigan? Does the government intervene and do something about it or are we going to let it be undercover for the citizens to suffer the prolong health effects? Even though there are defined medical ethics presented to physicians and scientists, these ethics are still being violated and covered up, which brings this issue to be critical.
Although the health care system has definitely improved greatly over the last decade or so in the United States and around the world, they are still major problems that could be addressed. One of the most pressing issue in health and health care is the lack of affordable and accessible health care insurances and plans. As one of the most developed countries in the world, I think it is quite embarrassing that we as a country have such a high rate of uninsured Americans compared to other countries who have global healthcare insurance and access to all of its citizens. Millions of people in the United States still does not have a form of health care coverage or insurance. This is proven to be a dire problem since Americans who do not have insurance cannot afford a basic check-up at the doctors to see if they are growing properly and that they are in good health.
I find this to be a critical issue since my mother is an American citizen who was uninsured. Her workplace did not offer her a healthcare plan as part of their job benefit and affording a single health care plan and insurance is very expensive. Since my mother was not insured, she always avoided going to the doctors since she would have to pay each time she goes as well as pay for the medications. This is proven to be an awful situation for her as her health worsen from the lack of doctor check-ups as well as the improper medications to treat her health conditions. She has overworked herself causing her blood pressure to be extremely high which did not help with her hyperthyroidism condition. She fainted at her workplace and was rushed to the hospital. She luckily recovered but since she did not have any health insurance or coverage, her health care bill was ridiculously high. She was thousands of dollars in debt, and since we fell below the average income of a typical American family, paying off this debt was a difficult task.
Like my mother, I know there are million of other Americans who are in the same position. They are not able to afford health care coverage which leads to their health problems to escalate for those who are uninsured. This is a major issue currently because some of the social and health care policies are jeopardizing the health care coverage of millions of Americans when the current government is trying to repeal Obamacare, a successful plan that has helped more American to have health insurance and coverage. The effects of not having everyone insured will create huge health disparities among certain minority groups which creates an inequality that will be repeated. I feel like if the physicians, the government, and the policy-makers work together to provide health care coverage for everyone, the amount of health issues plaguing our nations would decrease since everyone now can be checked by a doctor to see if their health is fine or not. Reflecting back on this year, I am glad I got the opportunity to take this class and be part of the Health Sciences Scholars Program. I have learned a lot in this class and have grown personally and professionally.