In the United States, you have a lot of freedoms and rights. But, strangely enough, you don't have the freedom to choose your health care provider. There is, more often than not, some gatekeeper-driven law that is trying to "protect you" while ultimately controlling who you receive care from and how it takes place.
Most would consider this blatantly unacceptable if it happened to their freedom of speech or expression. But in the vast majority of US states (32), this is exactly what happens.
In health care in 2013, it is high time for consumers to have The Right To Choose.
In the current health care landscape, consumers can not freely select their health care provider. It is generally a limitation imposed by antiquated gatekeeper-driven laws that oftentimes seek to protect patients from their own best judgment and common sense and prevent clinicians from practicing to the fullest extent of their educational and clinical training. Worse yet, it is driven by special interests protecting their own agendas far more than ensuring the safety of consumers. The research has existed for decades.
This may have been good in the 1950s when the Internet wasn't even a figment of our collective imagination and doctors were the only health care providers in the market place. But times have changed, the landscape has had cataclysmic shifts in terms of a patient's access to information, and clinical decision-making is driven by patient-centered involvement as much or more as anything else.
We now know that 35% of Internet users are online to self-diagnose. The number is increasing. Are you safe to do your own research? Of course you are. Are you capable of making decisions for your own well-being? Absolutely. Legislation doesn't prevent you from seeking out solutions online, does it? It does, however, restrict your right to choose a health care provider. Seriously, do you need to have limits imposed to protect you from your own common sense? I suspect not.
We live in a country that promotes fairness, freedom, choice, and a free market economy. But in the same breathe, we have a legislative process that, in reality, promotes the status quo, Big-Everything, and the lobbying demands and dollars of the few. And if you think that health care is too altruistic for hidden agendas, I suggest you look again. Pollyanna has left the building.
It is time to acknowledge that the rules of 1950 are no longer relevant in 2013.
It is time for legislation to be reflective of true "patient-centered care" and to move beyond paternalism and antiquated protectionist agendas.
It is time for all to have the freedom to choose their health care provider freely and of their own volition and desire in order to attain access to the care they need.
It is time for consumers to have The Right To Choose - to have what is rightfully theirs in a society built on a foundation of values espoused by the Founding Fathers. Be it a physical therapist, a physician, a massage therapist, or a chiropractor, from Montana to Texas, from California to Maryland, and all points in between - consumers should deserve and demand The Right To Choose.
My Health. My Choice. Today.
Now is not a moment too soon.
Photo credits: Clearly Ambiguous