We know the definition of Healthcare (or we think we do). But the definition of Freedom? Not so much.
You might think that the ability to choose your doctor would be healthcare freedom. “Free to choose,” sounds about right, doesn’t it? Or being able to choose what “healthcare system” one utilizes might be closer. Okay, you think, I can’t choose my doctor, per se, but I can choose which hospital system I use. How about insurance? I can still choose which insurance company to use, and choose among policy options – right?
None of the above represents true Healthcare Freedom. The field of medicine is one of the most heavily regulated in our nation, and regulation is the mirror opposite of Freedom. It is slavery – slavery to rules and regulations, slavery to a system designed to kill innovation and creativity. The online journal http://LiveScience.com defines Freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
And in today’s healthcare landscape, it appears that Cancer patients are not free to act, speak, or think as they want without restraint. I recently received a forceful request for records on a patient who refused to undergo any chemotherapy or radiation treatment. We politely sent the request back, stating we needed the patient’s signed consent to share records. “No, you do NOT,” the requestor said, because apparently “when a person has cancer they ‘belong’ to the collective, to the community, to the cancer board.” It has been deemed in the best interest of the population as a whole to have all information on every cancer patient available to everyone.
How does THAT make you feel?
The body requesting the information stated they had attempted to get the information from the patient, but received no response. Clearly, the patient didn’t want to share his/her information with them. After a brief tussle regarding the patient’s right to privacy, I politely told them that I could not help because we also had no further records available. This patient must have realized that their information would be sought from all possible sources, and strategically insulated themselves against just such a vigorous invasion of privacy.
Healthcare Freedom is something we lost years ago, when we collectively bought into the lie that we need health insurance. It became inextricably tied to our employment status, and that was when the chains of slavery were forged for us. And when the unholy alliance of insurance and hospital systems was formed, the iron shackles were placed around our feet. When governmental entities started regulating insurance companies, hospitals, and independent physicians, we were placed in our cells. And when we gave up our right to privacy from those same regulating bodies, we lost our last shred of hope for Healthcare Freedom.
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Founding Father Thomas Paine during a very bleak period in our country’s history. In “The Crisis”, penned on December 23, 1776, he wrote “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Today – as an independent patient-driven healthcare professional, I will continue to fight for healthcare freedom, though it is a true David vs. Goliath match-up. I will continue to find holes in the walls that have been built up and throw rocks at the heads of the giants. I will work hard to get my patients the tools they need, even if it means being a blockade runner. And I will fiercely guard their personal information, even if I must spin a web of my own to protect it.
Because even if you don’t value your privacy or freedom, I do.