One of the clear problems we are facing in general practice is the lack of funding.
For years, the predominant mindset of many Australian citizens has been that medicine should be “free”.
Now “free” really meant the Federal Government pays for their healthcare.
But I want you to consider that there is a long-term cost to free medicine…
Many of us are very aware of this when working in GP!
When there is not enough money, it becomes difficult to provide quality care in a set timeframe.
In this situation, there are only a couple of options for GPs...
Many GP practices have been forced into this choice, and some have chosen this route.
Some have just closed their doors.
I want to let you know there's another hidden cost…
And that is to the patient.
Unfortunately, that which is cheap or free is rarely valued highly.
It is often taken for granted.
The amount of effort that patients put in to change their health problems is typically significantly less when they have not contributed or contributed very little to invest in their own healthcare.
On the other hand, those that have invested large amounts of money into their health are often far more motivated and committed to actually improving their health.
Now, this is by no means a guarantee!
There are many people who have paid healthcare professionals large amounts of money and done nothing. They have consoled themselves with the amount of money equalled getting results.
And in many things in life, this is true… You pay the money, you get what you bought.
But in health?
Just paying the money is not enough.
If they pay and make no changes for themselves.. Nothing will change.
Those that pay and take action?
These people have a significant advantage over others.
When difficulties come up and have to be faced.. they benefit from an increased mental fortitude to continue on - even though it is hard to do so.
Those who have paid little or nothing for their health care, unfortunately, rarely have the mental frameworks to transcend their difficulties…Unless, perhaps, they have seen the true cost of the damage that poor health can cause.
We live in a very dangerous environment here in Australia in the 2020s…
Not because of infectious disease or major trauma…
But because of the amount of abundance that many (not all, but many) have here.
Many have more than enough food and yet lack exercise.
Their work is sedentary.
They relax by watching streamed entertainment on the couch.
This obesogenic environment that we live in carries very high health risks to our patients.
And that our value as GPs may no longer be the diagnosis of appendicitis or the management of trauma… Emergency departments are well-equipped and trained for this.
But rather, our role is the protection from and prevention of long-term health problems.
And these, at least to my mind, are valued at vastly more than $39.75.
Consider just how much your patients would pay if they could guarantee to avoid suffering from dementia, AMI, cancer, stroke, diabetic retinopathy or a host of other “lifestyle” diseases…
And consider whether our value as GPs is in insuring them against themselves and the risks endemic in the way many people live in 2023.
Dr Thomas Rolley