I woke up to the news reporting on the mid-term election results. It was both humbling and exciting at the same time. It was both frustrating and frightening. America had exceeded everyone’s expectations regarding voter turnout, and the pundits were actually reasonably correct this time in their predictions. America wants change. America wants to change how the system runs and who has control. This will not be a quick turn, right or left, but one that I suspect will be generational. First the House, and maybe then the Big House, and then, possibly the Senate.

But one thing didn’t change. And that is America’s reliance on a health care system that is unable or unwilling to tend to its owner’s needs. Every expert on television and in the papers was discussing how the direction of our health care system must be addressed and stabilized. Without our health, all other concerns pale in comparison. It is truly everything.

I practiced medicine for nearly 30 years. I operated on patients of every walk of life — rich or poor, uneducated or overly educated. Every color and ethnicity included. The one constant that kept everyone on an equal plane, that brought every one of my patients to the same level, was the basic fear of losing their health. Of losing control of their health.

I recently published a book in which I explore the concerns of people, otherwise known as patients, something that we will all be at one point or another. The problems we experience in trying to receive good quality health care, and the problems the medical community has in delivering that care, are reviewed.

In listening to the news reports of everyone’s obvious concern for maintaining pre-existing medical conditions laws, we must not ignore the other significant problems in our health care: The costs that continue to rise as the insurance industry continues its deplorable stranglehold on its own customers and providers. The lack of competition and ability of the pharmaceutical industry to charge what it can for needed medications. The device manufacturers and diagnostic companies to negotiate with the corporate structures that now own, and control, nearly 40 percent of physicians or their medical practices.

We have a health care delivery mechanism that is so fragmented, so inefficient and so entrenched in making a profit that the integrity of our health care system, as a means to achieve health care, has been lost.

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Our reliance on maintaining the status quo, of keeping our current health care system stable, is a mistake. It too, must change, and we must change it. For the concept presented in the news this morning of how we must make efforts to preserve our current health care system is not only wrong, it is also antiquated thinking.

Our current system is simply financially unsustainable. It is the most expensive health system in the world and it is not working. Yes, we must preserve pre-existing condition laws, but more than that, we need to revamp how our health care is delivered.

We need a single-payer system. A system structured in which all are included, rather than the current fiasco now in place. A health care structure that not only keeps us healthy, but one that can last, one that leads into the future with a system that works for all, not only the few who can afford it.

Yes, I am encouraged to see a step forward in how America voted. But we, the people, must continue to seek change in how our health care is delivered, and not to desire it “stabilized."

America must complain, to fight for what is needed; health care for all. We, the people, must continue to cast our votes toward that end and determine which companies are supported. We fight for which insurances we will accept, until we can implement this all-important change.

Health care is only a "system" when it works for all those it serves. Yes, America voted for change. But let’s not try just to keep what we have in health care. Let how health care is delivered be part of that change.

Michael J. Young, MD, FACS, is assistant professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Urology, and director of the Division of Urology Innovation and Technology. Young was born in Gary, raised in Munster and is a graduate from Indiana University Bloomington. The opinions are the writer's.


Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.