Art of Medicine
Nov 2022

Another Future We Create

Christa J. Prentiss
AMA J Ethics. 2022;24(11):E1091-1093. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2022.1091.


The second of 2 drawings exploring the changing financial climate of the US health sector, this watercolor visually considers which values our words and actions endorse.

Figure. Value = Quality/Cost



Watercolor and graphite on cold press paper, 7" x 10".


Value, quality, and cost are 3 key factors in a complex health care industry. As of June 2020, about 18% of individuals in the United States had medical debt “in collections.”1 For many ill or injured people in the United States, treatment will make them or their families bankrupt. Even when health care is of high quality, should it be regarded as “valuable” when it generates more poverty?

This watercolor drawing illustrates an imposing, perhaps impressive, but distant hospital perched atop a hill bathed in golden light, a glowing promise of aid for some. Its flag is a US $100 bill. Shadowy foreground figures seem to hesitate. Those still standing are uncertain whether to approach or enter.


  1. Kluender R, Mahoney N, Wong F, Yin W. Medical debt in the US, 2009-2020. JAMA. 2021;326(3):250-256.

Editor's Note

The first of Prentiss’ 2 drawings appears in the October 2022 issue of the journal.


AMA J Ethics. 2022;24(11):E1091-1093.



Conflict of Interest Disclosure

The author(s) had no conflicts of interest to disclose.

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.