Forced immigration and the American dream: a physician’s story


My grandfather was forced to immigrate from Japan to Canada in 1910. As I learned, he owned many sake factories in Japan, which were nationalized in a government takeover of certain businesses. Governments do that. The family was heavily burdened, and the government pressured them to move across the Pacific.

Over the next century, our family prospered under the Canadian government, with some family members coming to the United States.

One reflection of any government is the health care provided to its citizens. The United States is failing in life expectancy, caring for older adults, perinatal care, cost of medication and treatment, and equity in access.

Despite this country being a leading medical technology developer in the world, its health care ranking is worsening compared to other countries. Why?

Greed.

Instead of enhancing our nation’s health care, the medical-industrial complex of pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and insurance companies is reaching into the pockets of Americans to snatch their dollars.

For example:

  • Sickle cell anemia has been a scourge for many centuries, yet now a cure is available utilizing new scientific technology. However, only a few can take advantage because a one-time treatment costs $2 million per person.
  • There are newly developed DNA-altering mutation cancer treatments that can be $30,000 per month.
  • Your doctor is forced to fill out mounds of paperwork to receive “prior authorization” dictated by insurance paper pushers for you to receive evidence-based care.

Will insurance companies pay for these? “Denied!”

Many in California and even across the nation are happy to see the value of their homes increase. Remember, though, that this asset might make you a deep pocket and a future target of the medical-industrial complex, seeking new resources that they will force you to tap into.

We know that compared to other nations, we pay more than double for health care than any other country.

As quality health care around the world surpasses the US, we face the unenviable realization our children and grandchildren will face worsening illness as affordability is beyond their reach.

Author and historian Jon Meacham, in his recent book And There Was Light, chronicles emancipation and the life of Abraham Lincoln, “that progress comes when Americans recognize that all, not just some, possess common rights and are due common respect.”

Adequate health care should be an American right for all, emancipating us from the shackles the medical-industrial complex has intentionally bound us to. We, the People, can then prosper health-wise like other nations around the world.

Therefore, what can we do? Nationalize health care? But health care is different from sake.

Some will say it is another socialistic or communistic ploy for the government to control our lives.

Well, maybe our capitalistic ways need some tweaking for our nation to survive. Blending in common sense may allow us to preserve a better future so no one has to move overseas.

My profession is predicated on the scientific theory of statistics and following trends in developing evidence-based medicine. It works. However, the medical-industrial complex’s greed will interfere with how science can be used to cure our society’s ills.

Therefore, let’s analyze our U.S. health care system for improvements and question the hidden faults.

For instance:

  • How much do pharmaceutical companies really invest in “research and development”?
  • What are executives’ salaries, compensation packages, and bonuses in the medical-industrial complex?
  • What does it really cost to manufacture a pill?
  • How much do these medical-industrial complex stakeholders pay and influence lawmakers to affect their special interests?
  • What right do insurance companies have to direct a doctor in your medical care, influencing the drugs, procedures, or end-of-life care you receive? What is their educational background to “deny” the medical care being rendered by your well-trained doctor?

Realize that these questions have been asked and gone unanswered for the past several decades to keep the sham going.

When I want to cure a patient with many problems, I focus on the most life-threatening ones. Our nation’s most threatening problem is the need for a fair, equitable, and cost-friendly health care system.

We might not need a government takeover of health care, and we don’t need to leave the country. But we must sit down as a nation and cure these problems without the influence of greed.

Gene Uzawa Dorio is an internal medicine physician who blogs at SCV Physician Report.


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