The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Hospitals Don’t Want Patients with Disabilities

Nov 7, 2022

Four top universities, including Harvard, published a study showing that hospitals and healthcare facilities go out of their way to avoid treating patients with disabilities. Doctors interviewed for the study commonly said that they lost money treating these patients, both because the reimbursement rate was set extremely low, and because the usual 15-minute appointment was not nearly enough time to treat patients with disabilities.

Patients with disabilities are kept from even making it into the office, by failures to provide access for wheelchairs. A demeaning side factor is the lack of access to scales that can accommodate weight, “so they had told patients to go to a supermarket, a grain elevator, a cattle processing plant or a zoo to be weighed, or they would tell a new patient the practice was closed,” according to the New York Times.

Doctors interviewed for the study also complained about communication issues with people with vision or hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities, or mental illness. One doctor stated about treating a deaf patient: “I took it upon myself to actually hire an outside service to do [sign language interpretation]. They billed the office. Their bill was higher than what we were making, so it was a losing venture. It cost me $30 per visit for that patient, out of [my] pocket.”

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are profit-making enterprises. These businesses force their doctors to derive profit from transactions with patients. If there is not enough money in it, these hospitals and healthcare facilities avoid treating patients with disabilities.

Clearly, a profit-making system is disastrous when human life depends on it.