Yeah, health care.
Several readers have emailed with their comments, surprised that I support the health care bill, and I guess that’s in light of the fact that I generally fall within the category of a theologically conservative evangelical Christian. So there’s an expectation that, naturally, I would be opposed to anything political initiated by the Democrats.
There are many places where the Democratic party and I see things differently, but I object to the notion that theologically conservative evangelical Christians can’t see eye to eye with them on anything. There are also many places where the Republican party and I see things differently, and I don’t necessarily always fit into that box, either. In fact, I believe that there are sometimes issues on which the GOP finds itself in opposition to positions which many conservative, evangelical Christians would support. And this is one of them.
By the way, I don’t belong to either party. I consider myself one of those “independent voters” you read and hear about.
Let’s start with the philosophical argument. I believe the Bible teaches the principle of the sanctity of human life, from conception to the grave. I also believe that God is the creator of the universe and that he did it ex nihilo, from nothing. Therefore, as the scripture says, nothing in all creation is hidden from his sight. He is the source of all knowledge, and everything we know, including what we have discovered about the human body from medical science, is knowledge that God has revealed to us. As a result, I believe that health care, which is the result of what has been revealed to us, is not an “industry” or a “business”, but it is a basic human right in the same way that a conceived child has a basic human right to be born. God gave us this knowledge, not so that some could make money off of it, but so that everyone could benefit from it.
Obviously, the inequities which exist in our fallen world prevent every human being from having access to this knowledge, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work toward evening the odds, and that’s where I believe this bill comes in. It is a step in the right direction. Its provisions for preventing insurance companies from dropping coverage on those who get sick, denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, extending insurance coverage for people under their parent’s policies until age 26, and some other provisions, correct some of the cruelest problems that exist in the current system. Those who are placed in a position where they can either provide health care, or provide the ability for individuals to finance access to it can make a few sacrifices along these lines in order to shoulder their fare share of responsibility.
Experience is another reason I am for this bill. Have you ever lived without health insurance, not because you couldn’t afford it but because you had a pre-existing health condition that caused an insurance company to refuse to sell coverage to you because they were afraid they might have to pay you benefits instead of make a profit off of you? I have. As hard as you try not to be afraid, every time someone you know goes to the hospital, or experiences some medical problem requiring testing, or in some cases goes to the dentist, you are reminded that the same thing could happen to you, beyond your control, and in a relatively short period of time, you can be financially ruined. It’s easy for someone who doesn’t face that to downplay it, or to tell you that God is in control and you shouldn’t be worried about it. I’ve known some very good Christians who trusted God and had that very attitude who lost everything they had because of a single hospitalization. And there’s another disadvantage to being in this position, because if you can afford health insurance, you earn too much to qualify for assistance. I know. Been there, done that. The cost of doing this is a drop in the bucket up against the profit margins of most insurance companies. It’s a small price to pay for the privilege of doing business, I think.
There is, of course, always the option of simply going to the doctor, and paying your own way in the health care system. Good luck with that. People will pay a premium price for life-giving medical care and pain-relieving medication, and in a free market economy, demand drives the price. Without health insurance, a doctor’s office visit and a prescription for antibiotics could cost you $400.
I’m also just a little bit disappointed in the direction the opposition has taken. It appears that the Republicans not only do not want to help people out with legislation that corrects some of the worst abuses in the system, but they are standing firm in their protection of insurance companies and health care providers. They seem completely disinterested in achieving a fair balance between consumer and big business. They’ve allowed control over their agenda to pass to right wing media outlets, and they’ve permitted those outlets to use some of the most blatant speculation and misinformation I’ve ever heard to try to derail this bill. Federal funding of abortions in this bill has been a red herring for the opposition from the start, and I resent their using an issue like that as a political football.
These reforms will not cure everything that ails the health care system in the United States, but they are a step in the right direction. I’ve had two major hospitalizations in my life, both lasting almost a month. The first one was the result of myocarditis, which I contracted from pneumonia that was misdiagnosed and not properly treated at the first emergency room I went to. I left the hospital on medication for the rest of my life for a chronic arrythmia, which is why I was forced to live without health insurance for a while. The second one was for surgery to remove a strep infection from around the tendon in my lower left leg. I was diagnosed with diabetes and had more medication added to my already lengthy list. The cost of treatment for that incident, start to finish, was more than I earn in salary in four years.
I don’t know if this bill is the first step forward into complete change of our health care system or not. I do know that the attitude toward health care needs to change, and it needs to be viewed by those in control as a basic human right, not a supply-side business. That’s why I am for this bill. I do not believe that any of the bugaboos raised by the talk radio media, or the other opposition to it, will ever materialize.
By the way, there is a proper way to address Congress and express your views on legislation they pass, or don’t pass, and it is not by screaming and shouting people down in town hall meetings, or spitting on congressmen, or calling them names as they ascend the Capitol steps, or threatening them with violence. Our government is a Republic, the democracy part of that is that we choose representatives to do the work of government, at least, in theory, and in the course of civil debate, and through the system of checks and balances, there is a way to be heard. Those things previously mentioned serve not only to squelch debate and create defensive barriers to opposition, but they tend to cheapen the cause that those using the tactics are trying to advance. That’s not the way we do it. I would suggest that, if you are opposed to this particular health care bill, and to health care reform in general, you take up the president’s challenge and see if you can get enough voters together to elect the kind of members of representative government who will do the bidding of the insurance companies, health care corporations and prescription drug manufacturers, and continue the status quo, if that’s what you want. Good luck with that. Health care reform was high on the list of reasons the current Congress, and President, were elected. People are tired of paying exhorbatant prices for health care, and having a boatload of the money wind up in the pockets of corporate executives who earn $100 million salaries that are paid by their insurance premiums. I am. Aren’t you?