Saturday, March 15, 2008

Universal healthcare: continuing the conversation

When I titled my recent post a dialogue on universal healthcare, that's truly what I hoped it would be. I appreciate the opinions that were shared and have read through your comments multiple times, as I really wanted to hear what you had to say. By the way, Abbey just posted about her experience with healthcare while living in France, so check that out for another perspective.

I have already clarified that I am not advocating for or against universal healthcare, but rather trying to learn more about the issues. I do still feel that it is a stewardship matter, both at the individual level as well as national. Since healthcare costs typically comprise a substantial percentage of our monthly expenses, I wonder how can we be more wise in this area? For example, is it good stewardship as individuals to pay high amounts up-front to prevent catastrophic financial situations? On the other hand, is it better to pay less for insurance and risk facing a major medical situation?

At the national level, I want to know if/how we can abide by this principle from Acts 4:34-35: "There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time, those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and . . . distributed to anyone as he had need"? I'm not saying government-controlled healthcare is the answer, I'm just trying to make sense of caring for those in need without imposing outrageous taxes or enabling those who may take advantage of the system.

My husband and I have been a on group insurance plan for many years, but will soon be switching to a small office that merely makes a contribution to the employee's chosen plan. As we researched our options, an HSA (health savings account) appeared to be the most desirable option--until, we noticed the "maternity clause" at the end of the document. The clause, among other things, stated that if the insured became pregnant within the first year of coverage, maternity expenses would not be covered! Obviously that particular clause would not affect everyone, but we do hope God will bless us with a second child and don't want to feel pressured by insurance to wait a certain amount of time. It is unfortunate that insurance companies can get away with having so many "clauses" in their policies.

Spaghettipie linked to an interesting article (refuting universal health care) in the comments. A thought-provoking quote from the piece, which appeared in the LA Times: "The real danger is that our national obsession with universal coverage will lead us to neglect reforms — such as enacting a standard health insurance deduction, expanding health savings accounts and deregulating insurance markets — that could truly expand coverage, improve quality and make care more affordable."

Thank you for the compelling "discussion." If you have additional thoughts or resources to share, I'd be interested to hear them.

6 comments:

Tracy said...

Thanks, Carrie!

I agree it's about stewardship which goes nicely with the quote you have at the end. Good stewardship is fixing the problem not handing it over to the government. But saying "fix the problem" is easier said the done, right?

Megan D. Crow said...

Here's something interesting for you to consider...have you heard of Shane Claiborne and TheSimpleWay.com?

Well, anyway - Shane talked about an alternative to insurance in his book, Irresistible Revolution.

FROM THE SIMPLE WAY WEBSITE:

Alternatives to Insurance:
Imagine a group of folks committing to pool their money together every month in order to cover each other’s medical needs? Sounds pretty sweet eh? Well, it’s happening.

* It is preposterous to think that folks don’t have proper medical care here in one of the world’s richest countries (the US is one of the only industrialized countries without universal health care). Many of us here on Potter Street remember the life of She-She, a little girl who died a few years ago of asthma (yes, asthma) because she did not get adequate treatment.

And while we are grateful for the tireless labor of folks working toward health care for all, we are not willing to wait for the government to do what the Church is meant to BE.

Christian Healthcare Ministries is one of a growing number of innovative communities bearing each other’s burdens when it comes to medical expenses. Each month folks contribute money to a common fund of which over 90% goes directly to meet needs. Members receive newsletters that tell who is in the hospital and how to be praying for one another. CHM now has over 20,000 members who have collectively paid over 400 million dollars in medical bills over the past 20 years.

Check them out: www.chministries.org

Ewokgirl said...

Unfortunately, we can't expect what is essentially a secular government to be able to apply an Acts 4 principle. As I know you know, that passage is referring to the newly-formed church taking care of its own. And while I suppose it could be seen as a national stewardship issue, I just don't see any way to implement it without massive governmental changes and heavy taxation.

I believe the problems will have to be worked out from the insurance industry's side of things. Our main issue, as I see it, is that our healthcare is too expensive, health insurance companies have too much say in how a patient can be treated, and doctors pay through the nose for malpractice insurance due to our sue-happy society.

I wish there were a simple answer that would give health care to all Americans, but our government is already so burdened with taking care of people's needs through other governmental programs. And I still don't know how I feel about stewardship from the government in taking care of people. Making sure we have laws, rights, good roads, law enforcement, schools, etc. definitely. But feeding, clothing, housing, giving medical care? I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading the different posts on "Univeral healthcare" and finally decided to add my two cents for what it's worth.

I agree with the other comments made here in that we can't depend on our government to take care of us. It is called socialism when our government comes in and tells us how to care for our families. Minute by minute our rights are being striped away.

My dentist (he is now retired) was born and raised in Austria and move to our state when he was a young man. He went to Russia with his church on a work and witness trip. He said he couldn't believe how behind the times they were with their medical programs. Alot of things were at least 20 years behind us.

All this to say we are not perfect. There are alot of things that need to be changed. These have already been mentioned, lawsuits, inurance companies making way to much money, doctors charging alot because of what they have to pay for in insurance. I don't know all the answers, except one, not Universal healthcare.
There has to be a better way and that is God's way. What would he have us do? What the church has failed to do, our government has stepped up.

Our church has a fund that has been seit up for medical emergency's for the church families and community who don't quite have the funds to finish paying their doctor bills. This has truly been a blessing to many families in our church/community.

Also, if you haven't heard of Dave Ramsey and the course he teaches called Financial Peace University go to his website www.daveramsey, I highly recommended this course. It teaches people how to get out of debt and save for those emergencies such as medical.

Thanks Carrie for bringing up this subject. I've enjoyed reading your blog.

Blessings,
Devonne from Idaho

A, B & C said...

Carrie,

I love your take on this topic and the scripture you quoted. It's so refreshing to hear people open to talking about it. I agree with you that I'm not saying I'm for it, but I'm concerned about all the families who are suffering with huge medical bills they can't pay. As I said in my first post on the topic, $1,000 in ER bills was an annoyance to us, but to someone who was living month to month, that would be an awful hardship.

It's very frustrating to hear about the maternity clause on your husband's new insurance. My cousin is struggling with the same problem at his new job and his wife is devastated that they have to delay trying for a year (they just got married). She's 33 and after a year will be heading for high risk age... which will mean more tests and higher costs for their insurance company eventually!

My main goal in opening this topic on my blog was that something is established for all children in the United States. Maybe if they get regular check-ups, all their vaccines, and dental cleanings twice a year, they will value their health more. And hopefully one day, be more willing to fight for the good medical coverage that they deserve. We all, sadly, are will to accept much less than we deserve, especially when more companies are reporting profits.

Melody said...

Well, I know that generally if you change plans under HIPAA guidelines you have "credible coverage" that makes any pre-existing clauses basically null and void if you have had coverage for that period of time. However, I am not sure if this would apply to you because it sounds like you might be chosing your own plan and the employer giving you money towards it. But it is something you could look into.