I know I haven’t written anything in for the past few days, but I went to the beach for the weekend. Now, don’t think it was all nice and relaxing. Oh no, I went to the beach with about 13 teenagers and we stayed in an 800 sq ft (approximately) house with one bathroom. Yeah, I can hear the “What the f….?” going around as I write this. Relax, I’m not a perv, or crazy (well…,), I’m a youth leader and this was a youth trip. That has nothing to do with what this post is about, other than the fact I just wanted to whine a little and maybe get some sympathy. Hey, I figured it was worth a shot.
While I was on this lost weekend, I had a conversation with a friend and fellow youth leader. Now, this fellow thinks Glenn Beck is the bomb and if you’ve read this blog very much, you know I’m his polar opposite on that subject (if you haven’t read it, this is a good place to start). In this conversation, I asked him what, exactly, he thought Beck had right. Immediately, he responded “The health-care thing”. When I pushed a little further, he told me that he didn’t think his taxes should have to support people who don’t work and just lay around. It’s no secret that I’m in favor of the new health-care plan. As someone who’s had recent, in-depth experience with our current system, I can tell you all is not well with health care in the United States. If you get sick, you’d better have some damn good insurance and a pile of cash or you’re pretty much screwed.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with colon cancer and, after it was all said and done, the total bill topped $250,000. Fortunately, I had some of that “damn good insurance”, so I didn’t have to pay all that out-of-pocket. But, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m sitting here writing these words right now through no real effort of my own. I’m still alive largely due to an accident of birth. When I was diagnosed, the doctor told me I had a 50-60% chance of the cancer recurring after everything was done. Had I been born 20 years ago, that percentage would have been greatly reduced; 50 years ago, it would have been non-existent. Had I not been born into a modestly well-off middle class family, my chances at a decent education and job would have been significantly lower and I might not have had the insurance I do now and the treatment, if I could have gotten it, would have destroyed me financially. And, that’s something that happens everyday, in the most prosperous, affluent country in the world. One that’s supposed to be a Christian nation.
When my young friend voiced his concern about his money going to pay for someone else’s health-care, I asked what those without insurance were supposed to do. He said they should get out and work for it like he did. I’d love to chalk this misconception up to his youth (21), but I’ve heard too many older adults, who should know better, say the same thing. They completely forget that, more and more, companies are phasing out benefits like health insurance, forcing people to buy their own coverage. Coverage that’s not that great and can be prohibitively expensive, if you can even get it. Insurance companies rely on things like “pre-existing conditions” to keep from picking up someone they would consider a risk, leaving many people out in the cold when it comes to health care. So, they gamble and do without, relying on free clinics, Medicaid and the fact that the emergency room at the hospital won’t let you die on their doorstep, insurance or not. Again, this happens in a supposedly “Christian” nation.
What’s the answer to this problem? There are several, with the new health-care plan being a big part. But, what we really need is an attitude change in this “Christian” nation. You’ll notice the last two times I used that phrase, I italicized the word Christian. I did that because, while we call ourselves Christians, we’re not acting like it. Christians, followers of Christ, are supposed to look after their brothers and sisters, not worry about how to keep more for themselves. In the previous paragraph, I said my friend talked about his money. But, it’s not really his money, is it? Every Sunday, at church when the worship leader offers up a prayer over the offering, they almost always say something like “Oh Lord, everything we have comes from you. We humbly return a portion of the blessing you have bestowed upon us…,” and so on. In essence, we’re saying everything is His and we’re just borrowing it. We say it, but we don’t live it. This is the attitude change we need to affect. Because once you realize that the money you strive so hard for isn’t really yours, it’s not so hard to let go of it.