During the 1930s, it was commonplace in America for physicians to make house calls; if anyone in the household fell ill, a telephone call to the doctor’s residence resulted in his appearance at the sufferer’s bedside within the hour. This practice ceased (save, perhaps, in some very remote areas) at least fifty years ago. Today’s MDs are substantially office or clinic-bound by appointments booked months in advance. In the event that an established patient falls ill between appointments, he or she is expected to seek relief at the “nearest” — sometimes forty or more miles distant — hospital emergency room.
Moreover, since the 1930s, the very nature of the physician’s practice has changed dramatically. Today’s MD merely orders a variety of increasingly technical and costly tests for his patients. The government’s over-burdened Medicare system is now in the process of considering ways of shifting payment for such tests to the individual taxpayer. Based on the results of those tests, the doctor prescribes what he hopes may be the most appropriate symptom-suppressing pharmaceutical or pharmaceuticals. Because some of these drugs are rushed to market without adequate testing, interactions with other prescriptions are often unknown till such dramatic “side effects” as death become manifest and undeniable.
This has provided attorneys with an ever-expanding field of practice which, in turn, compels pharmaceutical companies continually to raise drug prices and insurance companies to boost premiums for physicians’ malpractice policies.
The result is widely deemed the world’s most expensive and least efficient health-care system on earth. To this, the “band-aid” approach commonly referred to as Obama Care merely adds yet another costly layer of bureaucracy.
In theory, the public should be entitled to know who profits from this essentially broken system. Obviously, the pharmaceutical industry is doing quite well, as are some lawyers, insurance companies, and stockholders. But, cynics suspect there may be other and larger players. They ask if it could be that the invasion of Afghanistan had more to do with absolute control of the opium poppy fields than with any so-called “war on terror.” With certainty, it is known only that, under the care and protection of U.S. forces, the Afghan poppies are thriving as never before in their documented history. America’s near-monopoly of opium means that now the price of both legal morphine and illegal heroin can be dictated from within the USA. Is America’s “war on drugs,” therefore, no more than an effort to eliminate the competition from Latin-American marijuana and cocaine dealers?
If there is (as it may appear) a drug “cartel” within the U.S. government itself, one might wonder whether it is centered in the Pentagon, the CIA, or within some Congressional clique. But, whatever the case, Toshiyori suspects that further inquiry could readily prove a terminal error of judgment.
Instead, individuals need focus on taking responsibility for their own health care. Every Buddhist should know not only some esoteric healing method (e.g., Reiki, Kaji, Asian herbalism, Qigong, etc.) but also the rudiments of health maintenance. Ayurveda might be a good place to begin. Try, at least, to avoid genetically modified grains and meats from animals routinely treated with antibiotics. But, remember that there is no end to the study of physical and psychological well-being. It is scarcely less important than your study of the Sutras and commentaries!