Monday, January 21, 2008

A Philippic on Health Care and Insurance

A philippic may seem a bit strong, probably very unminister like, and possibly even Unchristian, but I don’t believe so. It does describe how I feel. After all, I am a preacher, and I propose to preach.
One of the unfortunate inevitabilities of facing a life-threatening disease is figuring out how all of this vastly expensive treatment is going to get paid for. I begrudge no one their due when it comes to earning a living, after all, I want the best and brightest trying to find cures. Research is expensive, equipment is expensive, testing is expensive, all of these things affect the cost of care. I understand that, but still, how is the average person to get proper care if cost can be a barrier? In my own situation I was worried at first that my insurance may be woefully inadequate. Fortunately, the company I work for carries a special rider to cover costs, at least part of the costs, involved in my treatment. Beyond that we do have resources. We are certainly not wealthy, but we will, over time, be able to handle the cost of care. We are lucky. This whole process has awakened me to the plight of those without resources, without insurance, or with inadequate insurance. What are they to do? What about the very poor, whose access to any health care is limited by definition? Do we simply say to these people what Ebenezer Scrooge said of the poor in A Christmas Carol, “let them die and decrease the surplus population.” How is it possible that in the United States of America in the twenty-first century people literally die for lack of health care? This happens because in this country we see health care incorrectly. Our system views health care as a commodity, just another trade good to be bought and sold. With this view, it is easy to see how those without resources are left out. If it becomes just a matter of all the care you can afford, people will be left out, people will sicken. People will die, unnecessarily. This view of health care is sin, plain and simple. It is sin that people who need help cannot get it. Too many barriers are erected by the health care system, barriers that either push people away or seemed designed to intimidate them. Stacks of forms in language that makes sense to no one, probably not even the author of the form, how can one not be intimidated. No one, facing what is undoubtedly the worst time of their life, should have to deal with this. My sisters and brothers, this is sin. It’s not like sin, it is sin. The only way to end this sin is to change how we understand health care. Health care is not a commodity, it is a right. No one, in this day and age, should ever be unable to obtain needed care. As a nation we spend trillions of dollars on all manner of projects, yet caring for the health of our people languishes near the bottom. Propose a way to pay for all, and be prepared to be accused of destroying the system. Perhaps the system needs to be destroyed, it certainly must change. We cannot permit this sin to continue. Health care is a RIGHT. Thus ends the philippic.
Deacon John
Jan. 20, 2008

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