Thursday, September 03, 2009

Health Care: A follow up.

A bunch of new faces/voices showed up on the comments section of my last post. I am honestly honored that you read my blog. I have no idea who you are, but thanks for reading. I recognize that a lot of you don't necessarily agree with me. That's fine, but let me try to clarify at bit as well as push regarding the health care debate.
First, we need change. At the current rate of change of health care costs, it will cost an American family with a $100,000 income $30,000 for health care within the next ten years. Less than 40% of Americans make more than$100,000. Our costs are out of control for health care.
Secondly, as followers of Jesus, let us agree that we should care for our neighbors. We should care for their tooth aches, their stomach pains, and their pre-natal care regardless if they are married or not. We care for life; we care for people; we are followers of Jesus Christ; we honor the God of the creation.
Thirdly, we do not bow down to a political bent. Although all political parties, are interested, our concern is not for either a free-market of a socialist agenda. We are committed to our neighbors; we are committed to Yahweh. Thus, free market nor government sponsored heath care are our primary concern. This is secondary stuff. Both the free market and the government have failed our neighbors.
Fourth, we need a new way of thinking as well as living. For those who are against health care reform, I can only say, "really?" Do we really want to get to a point where 50% of our income goes to our heath care providers? We're already paying nearly as much for heath care as we pay in taxes. For a nation that prides itself on new ideas, invention, creativity, and leading the world, we are either in a coma or parallelized when it comes to fixing this mess. Nobody is willing to lead. AND I suspect it's because way tooo many people are making way too much money to really care.
Some people have suggested that the profit margins of hospitals are small. They are correct, but the infra-structures being built around the hospitals are gigantic. The health care profession is loaded with money and very wealthy health care professionals. There are plenty of people making a million bucks a year in this profession. There are not too many places that you can make the kind of money that the heath care profession provides.
At the end of the day, I am not denying that a lot of these health care providers work hard. So does our President and so does the migrant who is picking your dinner for next week. The President makes less than $200,000, and your veggie picker makes $7 bucks an hour without any benefits. Dont' tell me that the doctor with a second house in the mountains is more deserving. That's bunk. It's also a failure to recognize Jesus question, "Who is my neighbor?"
I'm not saying this is an easy issue, but I am saying this: As followers of Jesus, we should necessarily expect reform of some sort. The health care profession could have chosen to lead the way, but they chose not to do so. Stockholders were happy, or for whatever reason, the idea of re-creating how we think about heath care, was not a priority. Our President has pushed this issue, and it is now a priority. As followers of Jesus, let us lead the way forward. Let us think creatively while also embracing the thought that everyone in this nation is, indeed, my neighbor.


Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting we try to control wages?

H Richardson, Chicago

Anonymous said...

By the way, here's a helpful link regarding physician salaries.

They do make a lot of money, but the vast majority of them don't break 300,000 - no where close to the million you mentioned.
They worked their teens and twenties (into their thirties) away at 60+ hours a week (sometimes upwards of 100 hours a week) to earn that money too.

Salaries are intensely complex things and raising physician salaries is a red herring in the health care debate.

The reality is, good, quality health care is very expensive. It is expensive to provide, expensive to research, and expensive to develop and test. Attracting people who will research, develop, test, and administer well will be expensive.

There are countries where people who provide health care have only bachelor level education - countries which depend on other countries for medical advances. Here in this country we spend a lot of money on the advances and on people who do it well.

Being a follower of Jesus, I believe that one great way to care for my neighbor is to do everything I can to encourage those who continue to study and create (doing work I cannot and frankly am not willing to do myself due to the hours and stress) to continue to do it! This will continue to raise everyone's standard of living and health.

Unfortunately this does not happen at the same pace everywhere. I sincerely wish it did, but trying to rearrainge the puzzle pieces to make a picture I like right now does not make that a reality.


Greg said...

Christ commanded that I take care of my neighbor. That means I give of my time, treasure and everything I am to take care of others.

He did not command that I take the money of those better off than me in order to help my neighbor. There is suffering that we need to address, but it may well be that the government is the wrong vehicle.

We should be very careful when throwing around the commands of Christ as justification for a political theory.

By your assertion, the best form of governance could be summed up, "To each according to their need, from each according to their ability". However, I doubt you would call on America to become a communist country.

The debate we are having is not about whether or not we take care of the poor among us. It is about HOW BEST to take care of them.

We will never get beyond the vitriol that defines this debate unless both sides can accept the good points of each and work to a common goal.

As soon as you define my position as not caring for my neighbor, or as not in line with biblical teaching, I know that a productive honest debate on the issues is pointless. You have already decided what's in my heart, and you will never listen with an open mind.


randy buist said...


You may be right. Here are a few thoughts along this line too: It is the conservatives who will not hear another perspective on this matter. They are perfectly fine with the insurance companies making profits while intentionally neglecting policy holders. This kind of behavior supports free economics, and it also supports bad ethics.

As for taking more from those with more money, it is part of our tax code as well. Those with more money in the U.S. also benefit more from the free economy. So, it isn't that the wealthy are having their money taken from them. Those with more dollars also benefit much more from our economy.

It seems the President's speech tonight showed the real vitiol when a member of the opposing party shouted, "You lie." Even our politics have become more about power than what is best for the American people.

Anonymous said...

You create such broad categories. First of all painting a large group in light of one person who yelled - interesting to note that in many countries that is politics as usual - free and open debate. Also interesting, Obama accused people of being liars as well.

Also, there are an infinite number of choices in the health care debate. Simply because people oppose current plans does not mean they think the current one is ideal.

I don't support free markets on principle, but because I believe, however flawed they might be, they will serve us better than centralized control.

If they want to reform health care, enable us to get policies across state lines. We don't need the government to be a competitor, just to get out of the way so the current companies can actually compete.


randy buist said...

A few passing thoughts:
~ Why are we not allowed to control wages? Wages are controlled by every business in the world. Leaders decide how much to pay employees. Yet, Dr. wages are controlled largely by how much the market will allow.

~ In regard to connecting political position and the commands of Christ: this is not just about the commands of Christ. I hope we get to the point of asking, "What does it mean to follow the crucified Christ, and how do we follow?"

Being shaped by a reformed perspective, I believe all things can be redeemed by God. Simply engaging in politics without a biblical perspective for my neighbor doesn't redeem politics. I must engage and believe that God calls his people to a different way of being human.

IF we really don't believe the commands of Christ lead us to political positions? Then we shouldn't have a public opinion on abortion or drug use either.

Being against abortion as well as drugs is pro-life. So is some sort of health care for our neighbors.

While I may speak in broad strokes, I am highly disappointed that the Republican camp hasn't openly admitted that real change is necessary. They are mostly following with a begrudging attitude. What has kept them from speaking for positive change?

In West Michigan, we live in one of the most Republican areas of the nation as well as a highly churched area. Yet, we have yet to find a leader who will speak openly to this issue. Peter Hoekstra, where is your voice?

It is fair to say the republicans have largely stayed away from this issue because they don't want to be associated with any possible failure. This has led to the debate being primarily in broad strokes, and it has also been a huge lack of leadership on the part of most of the republicans.

While we may not like it, it is our reality...

Another broad stroke: Insurance companies operate to make money. The have increasingly employed policies that automatically deny claims. Talking with people within the industry, this is our reality. It simply is.

Sure, there are exceptions within the republican party as well as within the insurance industry, but those are exceptions rather than the norm.