Friday's blog post hit a nerve with some folks, and I went back and forth with people I don't know on Facebook about Health Care Reform.
At issue: "Real" Christians and affordability of health care reform.
First, the Christian issue. There is not a consensus on what constitutes a real Christian in the technical sense. Some say you must accept Christ as your personal, born again type of savior. Others think believing in Christ is enough, or being baptized is necessary, or daily prayer, or targeted hatred (Baptist preacher Fred Phelps believes this), or treating others a certain way, or a combination of these things with God keeping a scorecard. Rack up enough points and you're in.
I wasn't getting into that argument. I put the word "real" in quotes to indicate I meant something else. I meant real Christians as in those who follow the things that Jesus did, like being concerned about the poor and then doing something about it. His concern about the poor, and the sick, would lead me to believe that he would love assuring that everyone had affordable, quality health care. To me, the real Christians would follow. The fake Christians would not.
The other issue is affordability of health care reform. Specifically, of adding everyone to the "insured" category. I said (in a comment on Facebook) "I have a problem with people saying we can't "afford" health care reform. So, those who are left off, their lives, and health, are worth less than the rest of us. Health care should be a right, everyone should have the same access and the same choices."
The conversation took off from there, but it led to a discussion in my home that brought up some frequently false assumptions regarding health care in this country.
One is that people don't want to be forced to pay for other people's health care.
In fact, however, that is what we are doing now. If an uninsured goes to the hospital, he or she will get treated, and sent home. They can't pay, the hospital uses their indigent patient care portion of their budget (and they feel good about this) to take care of the bill. The hospital then passes the costs of those treatments to other patients, and this results in higher insurance premiums for everybody. So we are being "forced" to pay for the treatment of others.
That uninsured patient goes home, but does not have the money to pick up the prescribed medicines that will keep him there. So within a few days, or a few weeks, depending on the condition, he or she returns to the emergency room, where you and I will cover their expenses once again. This results in higher insurance premiums for us again.
This leads to another false assumption: that everyone gets health care whether they are insured or not. They "get to go" to the emergency room, federal law gives them that right.
That is not health care. That is being treated for something that needs treatment.
Health care includes preventive care, annual physicals, vaccinations, mental health care, nutritional counseling, vitamins, fitness evaluations - all those things and more are parts of an individual's health care.
Of course, Health Care Reform does not include all of these things, that would only happen in a more perfect world. But for most of the indigent uninsured people who go to the emergency room for a "condition," if they had insurance and better health care, they would have had some preventive measures or counseling, (which is much much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room) and not only would dollars be saved (thus resulting in lower insurance premiums for the rest of us) but the patient would not have suffered for weeks or months until they had to seek treatment.
So, Health Care Reform not only saves us money, it is also more compassionate, resulting in less suffering for the poor.
Now I'm tempted to bring Jesus back into the picture, because he would just love this. But even without him, I would hope most Americans would want those who are less fortunate to suffer less.
So that's just a little information for the Health Care Reform detractors to chew on.
Here is "Missed the Boat" by Modest Mouse.