The Escalating Costs of Healthcare Hurts Us All
By Sister Michelle
This week I’ve been interviewing graduate students from local schools who prepare Masters in Social work or Masters in Counseling students. If I accept one, it will be the first time I have taken two students (along with one graduate who is working on her License as a Clinical Social worker). I find the role of being a clinical “supervisor” enjoyable and it gives me a chance to grow while still being helpful to the students.
But the reason I’m mentioning it here is because this whole project is about serving the poor and the sick.
I am one person; I get more calls from persons needing services than I can ever accommodate. I am the smallest of several agencies in the area who offer services on a sliding scale basis. All of the agencies have waiting lists. The agencies have to get money from somewhere to pay staff. People who don’t have high incomes or don’t have insurance just have to wait. The people waiting are at risk of divorce or suicide, others are suffering from PTSD, panic and depression. Others are parents whose children are having trouble coping at home or at school and children suffering every kind of abuse.
So I will probably add another student with the hope that by teaching students, instead of providing therapy myself, we can make service available for 5 to 8 more people per week. I’m trying to leverage my skills to serve more than I could by myself. Area churches (one Episcopal, one Catholic) have agreed to donate office space for them. The students are hoping they will do some good and learn their profession. The clients are hoping the students can do the job well enough to help them because the clients don’t have enough resources to choose who they see.
Most therapists earn very modest incomes even when they only accept ‘paying customers’. While the news is all about escalating costs of healthcare, psychotherapy is now paid (as controlled by insurance companies) at far less than it was 20 years ago. Therefore the private practice people can’t give much ‘pro bono’ service and still survive.
Don’t get me wrong, on-the-job learning is the primary path to competence in this field and many others. The new knowledge and enthusiasm of students is often exactly what is needed. But when will we understand that healthcare is a necessity? Why are so many in our society determined that we can’t share the risks and costs of illness like they do in most other developed countries? Wouldn’t it be nice to spend our healthcare dollars on the provision of actual care instead of on sales persons, gatekeepers and advertising?