This is not going to be easy to absorb, if you really let it sink in.

My wife’s a veterinarian, and we sometimes compare notes. So this headline caught my attention. Excerpt from the article:

Economic Euthanasia On the Rise

Euthanasia can be the last act of love when disease or time has made death a greater comfort than life … But now euthanasia has taken on a new and unsettling meaning for some vets’ clients. Economic euthanasias are occurring at higher frequences in practices where the community has been hit hard by the down economy.

An increase in euthanasia when treatment is medically feasible leaves veterinarians to question how they can remain financially stable while helping clients and patients get what they need.

… [An Ohio emergency clinic says] “The worst part is more clients are taking their pets home to die when they’re in need of treatment.”

Now consider what the insightful, visionary Gilles Frydman wrote here a month ago today: Will the Great Recession Create Millions of e-Patients?

He pointed to a Wall Street Journal Health Blog post saying that nearly half of employers plan to shift more costs to us next year, and 20% of companies will switch to a plan that puts insurance out of the reach of many people. (I’m simplifying; read the post for details.)

Later that day, the Fierce HealthCare newsletter reported (see comment):

Survey of 505 family physicians…. “54% [of respondents] said they were seeing fewer patients since January 2008, and 73% reported seeing more uninsured patients. … 71% reported providing more uncompensated care. … Also saw signs that patients’ health was being directly affected by cost issues.”

Here’s my point, people: the forces of business in the healthcare industry are understandably defending themselves against revenue loss, but IT IS KILLING PEOPLE.

I’m in business myself. I have nothing against revenue, earnings, appreciation, stockholder value.

But this is not baseball, people. This is not car sales. Lives are at stake.

I urge the people who run businesses in this industry to find humanistic ways to accomplish their missions. I know you need to meet your targets. Please, please, do not turn us into targets in the process.

And I urge you [readers], yes all of you, to stand up and raise holy Hell about this. We are not carcasses to be mined for revenue. We are human lives. When healthcare becomes out of our reach, people suffer and die.

What’s happening in veterinary medicine – increasingly putting to sleep animals that could have been saved – parallels what’s happening in human healthcare. And as long as decision-makers prioritize preserving revenue instead of preserving life, the results will match.

You better think about where we’re headed – about what’s going to happen if we don’t rise up and demand that our interests be preserved.

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