Poverty and Healthcare.
Poverty and healthcare affect one another both directly and indirectly. The following essay explores the cause-and-effect interaction between the two concepts. Prior to going into the analysis let’s agree on the terms. Poverty means inability of a person to sustain a lifestyle that the ‘average’ person in the USA can sustain. Also let’s assume that healthcare improves one’s health and personal abilities.
Healthcare affects poverty indirectly through the health of an individual. Typically to become rich or at least to maintain one’s wealth and status a person should not be very sick. Sickness usually means that a person is focused on his/her health and as a result can dedicate little time to work, study, self-development and other activities that result in a success and wealth. It is necessary to add here that a human health is a person’s resource just like money and time. Having poor health means that a person cannot succeed because his/her mind will be occupied by pain, suffering, lack of self-esteem and other unpleasant experiences caused by poor health (Wankel, 144).
The US healthcare is one of the most efficient and effective in the world, yet it is also one of the most expensive in the world. Even though Americans are the richest nation (if based on the total GDP, or among the top richest people based on the GDP per capita calculations) not everyone can afford decent healthcare. Those who cannot to afford it usually observe their financial status (and health) deteriorate to the point of bankruptcy and poverty.
The wicked circle starts when a person does not really have enough money to afford decent healthcare and as a result experiences health deterioration. The deteriorated health means less productivity, fewer abilities and less chance to succeed. Lack of success in turn results in even smaller profits which again result in further health deterioration and even fewer chances to make money to afford the desired healthcare (Glanz et al, 53).
Another relationship between poverty and healthcare that one can observe is that poverty typically results in the lack of healthcare (or absence of it), while the absence or lack of healthcare results in poverty of an individual. The USA is a market based economy that endorses equal opportunities and freedom of choice. So, if Americans fall for advertisings of unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, alcohol, fast food) they make their own free choice in watching their health deteriorate. As a result America is the world’s largest market for all healthcare-related services, from traditional healthcare, to non-traditional, to Aurvedic, to folk medicine, to preventive medicine. Because of the great demand for such services and no government interference in the price-setting policies, healthcare providers naturally set the prices as high as possible to make as much money as possible. This results in a phenomenon that only rich and affluent people can afford decent healthcare. An average American just does not have enough resources to afford both diagnostic, preventive and curative medicine and attempts to use doctors only when the symptoms of a disease become uncomfortable. That typically results in health deterioration and disease progression that requires more expensive treatment. Therefore, it seems that not choosing the best healthcare usually makes the person to pay more later and thus causes the person to incur unpredictably high costs at some future time, that can resulting bankruptcy and poverty. So, the most important relationship between healthcare and poverty that can be inferred from the discussion above is that the higher the cost of healthcare (and since the lower its accessibility) the more likely that this nation will become poor, unproductive and unsuccessful (Yunus, 38). So the only way to reduce poverty anywhere in the world or to prevent the rich nation from becoming poor is to assure that healthcare is accessible by as many people as possible.
Finally, one should note that healthcare and poverty are related to other in different ways. Healthcare typically reduces poverty because a healthy person can work more productively. Lack of healthcare results in poverty sooner or later. Poverty also means no affordable healthcare (only cheap healthcare available). The higher the healthcare costs the less healthcare becomes accessible to ‘average’ Americans, so the more likely the Average American will become poor and unhealthy at some time in the future.
- Yunus, Muhammad. Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. Wiley and sons press, 2007.
- Wankel, Charles. Alleviating Poverty through Business Strategy. NY Random House, 2005.
- Glanz, K., Rimer, B.K. & Lewis, F.M. Health Behavior and Health Education. Theory, Research and Practice. San Francisco: Wiley & Sons. 2002, Pp.52-55.
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