Monday, October 3, 2011

Health Care Rant

I have to say, I'm baffled by the health care conversation in our country (USAmerica) these days.  It looks like the Supreme Court will eventually take up the issue of whether the government can mandate that everyone have health insurance. 

I think we're asking the wrong question.  The essential question, the essential divide in this country that I don't hear many people talking about (and I recognize that I might not be listening in the right places) is the question of whether each person deserves to receive health care as a basic right. 

If we say 'no' ~ if we say that health care is a privilege, and not a basic right ~ then the government has no business being in the health care management business.  The extension of this position is that hospitals should not be required to provide emergency room care to individuals who are not able to pay.  The extension of this argument is that we should require everyone to pay for their care, either out of pocket or through insurance. 

In this case, everyone who is not able to afford (or chooses not to obtain) health insurance, and gets sick, will either lose all their money and be forced to the street, or will chose not to get treated and possibly die of a treatable disease. 

On the other hand, if we say 'yes' ~ if we agree that health care is a right, and that everyone deserves access to medical treatment ~ then it is incumbent on us as a society to provide medical care for everyone in a manner which does not force a choice between food and medicine, or between treatment and housing.

In this case, some will be treated unfairly.  Those of us who are healthy will end up paying more in order that those who are more unhealthy do not become worse-off because of an overwhelming financial burden.  

I, as a Christian, am forced to take the latter position.  It is immoral, and more importantly it is sinful, that we are more concerned about paying less in taxes in order to pad our own bank accounts than we are about our neighbor. 

But even from a purely capitalistic and conservative perspective, corporations providing health insurance (and care) makes no sense.  Right now, I pay for health insurance.  I also pay taxes that eventually go to care for sick and injured and homeless persons who do not have health insurance.  My taxes pay for police officers and fire departments, for social workers and hospitals who care for those without insurance. 

Right now, I'm paying for my own health care and for the health care of those who can't afford it.  But I'm making payments in two different directions ~ one, to the government for taxes; and the other, to insurance and drug companies which seem to report record profits each year. 

So, if we say that health care is not a basic right, then we as a society are saying that the wealthier are more important than the poorer ... we are saying that all people are not created equal.  

If on the other hand, we say that everyone deserves equal access to health care as a right, then the government should be in the business of providing everyone health care.  Sure, it may cost each of us a little more in taxes.  At the same time, we'll no longer need to pay for private insurance.  Plus, when society has access to health care, we end up with a healthier society ~ and that's good for everyone. 


1 comment:

  1. Everyone deserves equal access to healthcare. People shouldn't have to worry that if they work too much, they may lose healthcare. People shouldn't be forced into poverty (ie Medicaid) just so they can get healthcare.

    And really, the high deductible plans aren't equitable either. They force people to think whether they really need the MRI, the medicine, etc.

    And people with "good" healthcare perhaps shouldn't be told they can't try a medicine because someone decided the clinical trial for a drug didn't provide strong enough evidence, even though it got FDA approval.

    Equal access and equal choices... it may mean more taxes, but it's a definite right.