On Health-Care

As I’m listening to President Obama deliver his address to Congress, I continually keep coming back to the phrase, “Well said, Mr. President.” Now, let my ranting begin…

The plan continually comes back to a public option for those without health care coverage. I am saddened when partisan politics keeps some from supporting the idea of giving an option to those who cannot currently afford coverage. This is not about a take-over. Those in the health-care industry making ridiculous profits will continue to do so (however, the President does desire to hold this industry accountable…as it is a bit out of control…seven figure salaries, eight figure bonuses). This is simply about providing an option for those who currently have no options.

I would venture out to say that many of the career politicians whose campaign pockets have been fattened by big business and the health-care industry have not experienced what it is like to be unable to afford adequate health-care coverage.

Upon graduating college, I fell into the category of those who could not afford health insurance. Because I was no longer a student, I was booted from my parents policy. My place of employment, while working towards providing a health-care plan for it’s employee’s, did not have a health-care plan. The major problem was being able to find an affordable, high-quality plan for a small group of employees. So, that left me looking for single-person coverage. I made too much money to qualify for government-assited programs. I did not make enough money to justify coverage on my own.

For the most part, I’ve always been a healthy person. So, instead of purchasing insurance, I bought a membership to a health club and worked out on a daily basis. That worked for a while…until I got an illness that over-the-counter self-medication could not overcome. I found myself at an urgent care center because none of the family practice doctors in town desired to take on an uninsured patient. The cost of the visits, medication, and procedures to promote health wiped out any savings I had and made it difficult to keep up with my modest standard of living at the time (a one-bedroom apartment, a used car, and the usual utilities). And, that was only one mild illness. I found myself wondering how other individuals and families without health insurance managed to cope with illnesses and the costs of treatment.

I know too many people who are not following their dreams simply because they cannot afford health-care. They are in jobs that they despise simply because their art or call does not provide enough profit to supply adequate health care coverage for their families. I know of too many older adults who would have retired years ago, but have to continue working because they cannot afford or do not qualify for coverage. I know of too many people who simply go without treatment because they cannot afford insurance. And, I know of doctors who have their hands tied because the insurance companies dictate how they should treat patients. Enough is enough.

Currently, I am fortunate to have adequate, yet ridiculously expensive health insurance. While I am also fortunate that the church has to bear the largest responsibility for our coverage ($1,000), we are still responsible for over $600 a month for coverage (this will go into effect in October after Emily takes a leave of absence). Yes, our health-care plan costs just under $20,000 a year! I am thankful, yet this is out of control.

Reform is needed. Public options for those who go without coverage is needed. Referring to this as socialism is irresponsible! I better stop before I get out of control.

In reality, what troubles me the most is that this really indicates a great failure on the part of the Church. I believe Jesus said something about looking after the sick. All around the world, people are suffering because they do not have access to adequate health care. While the Church makes great strides in missional service, we obviously aren’t fulfilling our responsibilities to care “for the least of these.”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25:36-40, The Message)

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