Should Healthcare Be For Profit?

I am sitting at a crossroads. I am a healthcare provider and a small business owner who is having to transform a formerly for profit outpatient pediatric therapy clinic, into a not for profit outpatient pediatric therapy clinic.

I have my reasons, and I’ll list a few:

  1. Major decreases in access to funding.
  2. Decreases in remaining funding.
  3. Cash flow issues from insurance battles.
  4. I offer non-traditional therapies in a socioeconomically suppressed area.

There are others, but the short version is that the rate of reimbursement and the ability of my clients to pay is not equal with the cost of doing business.

In the past several years, there has been constant discourse about access to healthcare in America. The largest issue that I see coming up, and that I bring up myself, is how our current model allows hospitals, insurance companies, and drug and equipment manufacturers to take home large amounts of money while continuously pricing people out of care.

“Healthcare shouldn’t be for profit,” they cry, and until recently, I would agree.

Even as a for-profit company, my goals have always been philanthropic. My switch to a non profit entity is to allow us to seek grants and contributions to offer services that insurance typically doesn’t cover to people who can benefit.

But here is where I pause and ask this question: Should healthcare be for profit?

Not golden parachutes. Not CEOs with salaries 300x the salary of the lowest paid employee. Not stocks and dividends.

No. I mean not for profit, public charity. Should healthcare depend on charity?

Most major hospitals in the US operate as public charities, enabling them to receive donations, apply for grants, and raise funds. These hospitals do incredible things, but should they have to function as charities to survive?

Should I have to transition my company to accept donations to survive?

Should someone paying out a quarter of their paycheck to cover health insurance premiums have to rely on charity in order to access healthcare services that they need? Should a child who could benefit from music therapy need to rely on charity when they are covered under two major medical health insurance plans?

In my heart, the answer is no. I shouldn’t be having to make this transition. I shouldn’t have to be upending 8 years of work to continue doing the work that I am passionate about. The children that I work with deserve better. Their parents do as well.

It will work, thank goodness. We’ll be able to raise funds and apply for grants and provide scholarships for nearly twenty families who had to discontinue therapy when funding stopped. But does that make it okay? Not really.

Healthcare shouldn’t be a charity. Services should be reimbursed at reasonable costs. Profits should be made, but evenly, and across the board, from provider to supplier to payer.