If “Health” had a facebook page, it would list its relationship status with “Money” as “It’s complicated”.
It’s no secret – the relationship between health and money exists, and it can be pretty dirty. Whether or not we like it, health is a business! We even talk about healthcare as an industry, we allocate healthcare dollars, and you will even hear about getting the most bang for your healthcare buck.
As a healthcare practitioner, and small business owner I’m always reminded of the Ross and Rachel type relationship between money and health (for you non-Friends watchers thats code for “complicated”). Balancing the responsibilities of ownership, earning an income, and maintaining a profitable business along with providing the best health outcomes to patients is not easy. The most challenging aspects of private-type healthcare in a public health society is managing patient expectations around value and cost of care. In an ideal world we could all stick to the mantra of “staying out of our patients’ pockets”, or very simply, providing the best care possible without considering the price tag. In reality, this isn’t possible. Along with presenting patients with clinical options, there is always the influence of cost on patient choices and compliance! When introducing some more expensive therapies to the clinic, and trying to price them appropriately, I again got to thinking about his money-health relationship. When I stopped off to pick up a bottle of hand sanitizer at a local pharmacy giant that shall remain nameless – BAM- I was struck by the money and health balance again!
Why was I in a location providing so-called health products and services looking for hand sanitizer, and having to pass by displays for sales of potato chips, soft drinks, and chocolate bars? Better yet, why would an individual picking up their prescription for metformin (a diabetes medication), or lisinopril (an antihypertensive) be forced to walk through a store actively marketing food products completely contraindicated to their condition? Even more laughable, why was there pamphlets for healthy diet change within visible range of the chip aisle?
The easy answer is “profit”. Profit is not inherently a dirty word, but I think we can agree that healthcare “profiteering” indeed is. Although large retailers jumping on the healthcare bandwagon while also providing products that are the root cause of disease may be clearly guilty of putting profits ahead of health, they are not alone. Some companies offering natural health products and services struggle with this balance, and there are are no shortage of notorious examples of individuals profiteering in the natural health sector.
So how do you protect yourself? How do you know when an individual, business, cause, community, or professional values your dollars more than your health? There is no easy answer. Be an informed consumer, be active in your own health management, and always ask yourself the following:
“Is this person caring for me, or selling to me?”
Perhaps the easiest rule of thumb is if a business is pushing chips and pop, their priority is in your pockets and not in protecting your health.