Economics · Public Policy

Healthcare or Wealthcare?

So I walk into this swish Medical Centre for a health checkup and see a lot of people waiting in queues, reading brochures from cover to cover and overworked receptionists trying to keep up with the melee of patients coming in with queries, payments et al.

I go to one of the receptionists and tell him that I’m here for a full health checkup and before I can say anything more, I’m handed a glossy brochure. I think okay, it probably speaks of the facilities and benefits provided, but to my surprise and might I add, a little exasperation, I see a “rate card”. Oh yes, a crisp price list with 5 different kinds of health checkups; 1. For Women, 2. Comprehensive, 3. Premium, 4. Privilege and 5. Royal. Least to say, I was perplexed.

Now I’ve never been a fan of hierarchy in any form unless essential for reasons of functionality but this, I find utterly and completely unacceptable. A system of hierarchy which should have been to establish smooth operations has been turned into a class based system, where the mantra seems to be “the richer you are, the more we care for you”. When did healthcare become a luxury hotel where the best is reserved for the richest? This concept, though a little unthought-of by us on a day to day basis, is slowly but surely going to become one of the most pressing problems for every person in this country.

Sadly, we seem to be unperturbed or have simply given up on ever solving the ever widening gap between the rich, the poor and everything that matters hanging in between. I urge everyone to give this a deep thought. It may not seem important right now, but someday when you need a doctor to help you with an ailment, you may have to qualify under a “privileged” section to receive the care you need! Cruel, some would say. But of course, who needs all the food and shelter when you get to save a large chunk of your salary to pay for basic healthcare for yourself and your family right? Not an unreasonable deal at all.

Life, and more importantly a healthy life, is becoming costlier everyday my friends. So if you want to live beyond subsistence and have a comfortable life, you better be bringing in a fat paycheck.

There are a huge number of reasons I could present for this issue, a bunch of statistics and variables showing the reasons for high mortality rates, poor health & nutrition among citizens, the number of doctors available to the population, the brain drain India is facing with thousands of doctors preferring to open profitable practices abroad, poverty causing deficiencies in the living standards of people and so on and so forth. But the problem isn’t only with the statistics. It’s with our way of thinking. We are programmed to follow the system quietly.

Hierarchy survives only so long as it is reinforced and abided by diligently by every person who is part of it. Till we start questioning the makers of such systems of why you should be denied a life saving surgery or medication because you are not financially in the upper 20% of the population, it will remain, and it will be grounded so firmly that the future generations will face a very real version of The Hunger Games where they have to fight for their dear life. Who would’ve thought Suzzane Collins would get it so right?

I have studied, read articles and data on the healthcare situation in India without giving it any real thought. I have researched and written projects on so many outstanding individuals and teams who are working with all their heart and mind to solve the basic health challenges we face and cannot hope to solve without help. In retrospect, I feel inspired and proud that we have people who care for everyone else. But they can’t do this alone, and the real difference will be seen when we all join forces and protest for change, devote ourselves to help bring that change and finally, create a place where everyone can have the right to a healthy life.

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor…”

About the Author

riddhimaRiddhima Sharma

A patriot and hopeful change maker, Riddhima is a believer in the power of women to change the world. She has studied Political Science with special reference to the feminist movement, feminist theory and the position of women in Indian politics. She is currently pursuing Law in the first year and hopes to specialize in women related laws and work with an organization in a related field. She enjoys public speaking and is not afraid to speak her mind. Sharma is a quick learner and is keen to gain new experiences especially in the areas of public policy, politics and strategy.

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