U.S. Could Learn From Cuban Health Care
|By Ellis, Glenn|
Put simply, my fascination with the Cuban health system stems from the similarities of their system, and our system of
As we know,
Not only are half of all bankruptcies in this country caused by medical expenses, the typical elderly couple may have to save nearly
I have always envied how
My interest was particularly focused on some of the more glaring similarities between the two countries in regard to aging and the elderly in this country:
Depression is a widely under-recognized and undertreated medical illness. About 1-5 percent of elderly Americans suffer from depression.
Poor and the underserved, (including many people of color) in this country suffer disproportionately and have poor health status.
Over the past decade, I have traveled to
A couple of weeks ago, I was a part of an academic research program, looking at
The trip was organized by MEDICC (Medical Education Cooperation with
The older U.S. population (persons 65 years or older) numbered 39.6 million in 2009 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. People 65 and over represented 12.4 percent of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 19 percent of the population by 2030.
Like the rest of the world, the U.S. is an aging society. This will place substantial additional pressure on publicly funded health, long-term and income support programs for older people.
Poor and uninsured American adults have greater difficulties not just with health care costs, but finding doctors who would see them.
About one third of 41 million uninsured adults delayed getting care due to costs in 2010, compared to 25 percent in 2000, the study found. Nearly half the uninsured said they had an unmet medical need in 2010, up from 33 percent in 2000.
As I visited many different parts of the healthcare system devoted to care of the elderly in their society, I paid close attention to the "take-aways," that I felt were of particular interest to the challenges we face here in the U.S.
One of the biggest problems found in elderly Americans is depression.
Depressive disorder is not a normal part of aging. Emotional experiences of sadness, grief, response to loss, and temporary "blue" moods are normal. Persistent depression that interferes significantly with ability to function is not.
Many health professionals in this country seem to mistakenly think that persistent depression is an acceptable response to other serious illnesses, and the social and financial hardships that often accompany aging - an attitude, unfortunately, often shared by older people themselves. This contributes to low rates of diagnosis and treatment in older adults.
I visited clinics; "senior centers"; a rehab center; and a Family Medicine Office (primary care). I was even able to join a doctor for her regular visit to the home of one of her patients.
After my interviews with professionals and elderly Cubans in the community, I found a vibrant, healthy and active elderly population, with healthcare providers organized, and structured, in a way to allow healthcare to be delivered to meet the needs of the elderly.
I also conducted interviews in Spanish (with the help of Georgina Gómez
The Cuban health care model is a public health/holistic one. In other words, health care includes the whole person; the physiological, psychological, emotional, social (including family relationships) and environmental aspects of the person. The services are distributed in a public health triage model. If ten people are waiting to be served, rather than be seen on a first-come-first-serve basis, they are taken in the order of need.
Cuban health authorities give large credit for the country's impressive health indicators to the preventive, primary-care emphasis pursued for the last five decades. These indicators - which are close or equal to those in developed countries - speak for themselves.
Yes, I am convinced: it's possible to take care of the poor and underprivileged without bankrupting America. I left
"The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
Remember, I'm not a doctor. I just sound like one.
Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!
"Many men can draft many laws. But few have the piercing and humane eve, which can see beyond the words to the people that they touch. Few can see past the speeches and the political battles to the doctor over there that is tending the infirm, and to the hospital that is receiving those in anguish, or feel in their heart painful wrath at the injustice which denies the miracle of health to the old and to the poor. And fewer still have the courage to stake reputation and position, and the effort of a lifetime upon such a cause ..."
His latest book, "Information is the Best Medicine," was released in
For more good health information, visit: www.glennellis.com.
|Copyright:||(c) 2012 Philadelphia Tribune|