Doly Han is an MPP/MBA candidate at the Heller School for Social Policy & Management at Brandeis University. He is joining the Lown Institute and Right Care Alliance this summer intern to provide his perspective and research skills on the Pharmacy Benefit Manager project and the Polypharmacy project.
Learn more about Doly’s background and insights into the inequality created by the health system in his first guest blog on the Lown site:
I was born in Seoul, South Korea, between an American father from Los Angeles and a Korean mother from Seoul. I moved to the US to get my undergraduate education and received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Berea College in Kentucky.
Being from South Korea where there is universal health care, I didn’t realize the importance of the health care system in society, until I came to the US. In many ways I took health care for granted. When I moved to Kentucky for college, a state that expanded Medicaid but still ranks very low in measures of health, it opened my eyes.
It wasn’t until I came to Kentucky that I saw people who had lost all their teeth.
I saw people who couldn’t go to the doctor because they had no insurance and couldn’t pay out of pocket. I saw people with physical limitations having trouble accessing health care, because it takes an hour to get to a local hospital. The United States is a much wealthier country than South Korea, but it wasn’t until I came to Kentucky that I saw people who had no teeth.
This was the moment I realized the broken health system could make healthy people vulnerable and make people who are already vulnerable at even greater risk. Also, I learned that one’s quality of life depends greatly on the quality of health. I became interested in the intersections between health care and economics, and wrote a senior undergraduate thesis about the connection between access to health care and infant mortality.
I learned that one’s quality of life depends greatly on the quality of health.
After college, I wanted to learn more about health policy, so pursued a master’s degree in Public Policy at Brandeis University. In my first year in the program, I conducted a statistical modeling project about the factors that affect which patients with urgent medical issues wait longer in the Emergency Department and which patients tend to leave before being seen by medical staff.
When the broken system prioritizes profits over patients’ health, human dignity becomes a commodity. Being healthy makes us happier and gives us a sense of well-being, not only for ourselves but also for our families. Without this essential element, our ability to contribute to society, provide for ourselves, and enjoy our lives is compromised.