The Lorax: An analogy for the current healthcare system

What does this Dr. Seuss classic have to do with the healthcare landscape and practice of medicine? Read to find out.

Many parallels exist between today's world and the fictional worlds of Dr. Seuss:

Physicians, like the book's humming-fish, want to go away, their future dreary. They hope, although woefully weary, that they can find a future that isn't so "smeary." The shortage of physicians in primary care-and in many other fields-is no scare. It is well-documented. Although the recession has altered the timeline for many, polls still show that roughly half of physicians' plans are still retirement-oriented.


Are these analogies perfect? Hardly. Our own gritty, grimy world always will look dreary and dull compared with those of Dr. Seuss. To focus on this fact, however, misses the point. The books of Dr. Seuss never have been about alternate realities. Their purpose is to inspire us-or warn us-to what we can be, as the case may be. They are beacons lighting the way to bettering ourselves and our world. It's up to us to follow his wisdom, no matter how the winds of change are swirled. We must recharge ourselves and look for things to be better. The answer won't come in an insurance company form letter.

If the hearts of the Once-ler and the Grinch can change, why can't ours? "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

The author practices internal medicine in Lexington, Kentucky. From the Board columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are independent of Medical Economics. Send your feedback to

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