Sometimes, the story of one person’s individual experience can shine a light on bigger issues that affect us all. In this Detroit Today conversation, Stephen Henderson hears one man’s story of navigating America’s healthcare and what it shows about the faults within the nation’s commercialized medical system.
“To me, the critical thing is, are our bodies just another part of the economy or are they not? And right now I think they are, and they ought not to be.” — Timothy Snyder
Listen: Author Timothy Snyder explains how and why America’s healthcare system is failing its people by putting profits over health.
Now, he’s back to talk about his experience falling ill at the end of 2019 and what he learned not just about his own health, but also the maladies that weaken our collective health and healthcare in America. Snyder’s “Our Malady” simultaneously chronicles the author’s own story and reveals the deeper systemic maladies within our nation’s healthcare system. “What happened to me happens to everyone in this country… we have a commercial medical system,” says Snyder.
“The book is about things I thought about when I was in the hospital bed and really about how our sickness is political,” says Snyder. He adds that while our country is so defined by notions of freedom, we collectively “don’t know how to talk about freedom anymore.” He says that when a person is sick in the hospital bed and can’t talk or can’t move, freedoms of speech and assembly are completely meaningless. This matters, he says, because our conceptual freedoms don’t help us if our physical health keeps our bodies from practicing the freedoms granted in the United States.
As far as what America could learn from other healthcare systems in Europe, Snyder says if you’re in Austria or Germany or Sweden you don’t have to worry about finances in the way that Americans do. “‘When my first kid was born in Austria, you know how many forms I filled out? Zero. You know how much I paid for it? Nothing,” says Snyder. Henderson and Snyder also discuss the impacts of chronic pain and “pill-pushing” instead of alternative therapies and preventative care.
“To me, the critical thing is, are our bodies just another part of the economy, or are they not? And right now I think they are, and they ought not to be,” says Snyder.