When I was younger, I heard that there were health and health care disparities. I heard this often enough to know it to be true, but I didn’t really have a grasp of what this meant. And, truthfully, I figured that if people were talking about it, somebody out there was fixing this problem. If you are reading this now, you are likely past this stage of blissful ignorance. It wasn’t until my clinical years of medical school that I started to see the realities of these disparities. I started interacting with patients who lost their job, lost their insurance, and were faced with deciding between obtaining necessary cancer treatments or bankruptcy. I started talking with patients in the coverage gap who have no options for insurance. I realized there are plenty of brilliant people out there who are trying to fix this problem, but a lot needs to be done.
This is why I advocate. I advocate on behalf of my patients. I realize that my interactions with patients, while important and fulfilling, encompass only a snapshot of the patient’s health. The larger determinant of their health is whether the health care system supports their use of preventive services. I will cherish the day when the predominant question is not patients asking, “How much is this going to cost me?” But rather, everybody asking, “How much is this going to cost us?” When somebody postpones going to the hospital or seeing a doctor because of cost, how does that affect everybody around them?
So why should you advocate? Maybe you have been personally affected by health care disparities. Maybe someone you know has. Or maybe you just feel that advocating for improving the health care system is the right thing to do. I hope that, regardless of your reason, you join us in future advocacy events and you take the time to reach out to your representative and encourage them to vote with their constituents’ best interest at heart.
It is with great pleasure that I present this year’s H-STAT legislative agenda, which includes closing the coverage gap, increasing the tobacco tax, supporting the Georgia Poison Control Center, and passing the Family Care Act. Please check out our advocacy page to learn more about how you can get involved.