Are patients the health care system’s free labor?

Have you ever felt overburdened by the amount of paperwork, phone calls, e-mails, appointments, etc., associated with navigating the health care system?  If so, you are not alone.


In the article, “Unpaid, stressed, and confused: patients are the health care system’s free labor,” Sarah Kliff describes how the health care system can place considerable burden on the patient him/herself. This realization came about from her own experience managing a chronic foot injury. As Kliff explains:

What I didn’t understand was the burden patients face in managing the health care system: a massive web of doctors, insurers, pharmacies, and other siloed actors that seem intent on not talking with one another. That unenviable task gets left to the patient, the secret glue that holds the system together.

For me, this feels like a part-time job where the pay is lousy, the hours inconvenient, and the stakes incredibly high. It’s up to me to ferry medical records between different providers, to track down a pharmacy that can fill my prescription, and to talk to my insurance when a treatment gets denied to find out why.

Click here to read the full article.

2 thoughts on “Are patients the health care system’s free labor?

  1. Personally, I am increasingly uncomfortable with the role we, as patient & family advisors, are trying to play in the world of healthcare. Unfortunately, I do feel our role falls into into what Sarah’s article’s title indicates – ’Are patients the health care system’s free labor?’ …. Thoughts? … Comments?

    • Thanks for reposting your comment, Pete. My apologies for the technogremlins that resulted in you having to do so. Keep well and have a good weekend.

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