Archive for August, 2005

Of Corvettes and Health Insurance

August 29, 2005

I recently read an article about health insurance by Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, The Tipping Point) in The New Yorker. I highly recommend reading the entire piece, but here is an excerpt:
“And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.”

Shouldn’t we, as Christians, be bothered by the fact that 45 million of our fellow human beings can’t afford health care? (This is where the conservativeschime in.) Yes, there are programs available to some people who can’t afford health care, but why do Americans take the attitude of “sorry about your luck, I guess you just need to get off your rear and go make something of yourself so you can get healthy. It’s not my fault you’re sick.” But it is our fault. We sit back and let this happen. There is also the talking points that are always thrown out to convince you that our current system is the best. So here are some talking points for the other side.

Here is another excerpt from the article, referring to a report given to the Bush White House (motto: being president means never having to say you’re sorry”):
“In the section on the uninsured in the President’s report, the word “poverty” is never used. In the Administration’s view, people are offered insurance but “decline the coverage” as “a matter of choice.” The uninsured in Sered and Fernandopulle’s book decline coverage, but only because they can’t afford it. Gina, for instance, works for a beauty salon that offers her a bare-bones health-insurance plan with a thousand-dollar deductible for two hundred dollars a month. What’s her total income? Nine hundred dollars a month. She could “choose” to accept health insurance, but only if she chose to stop buying food or paying the rent.” This is much the same reason I “choose” not to own my dream car – a 1963 Corvette – I can’t afford it!
I work in public education and for a two year stretch went without a contract. The major sticking point – health insurance. For a period of time, it was an attitude of “us” versus “them” with the administration. Did they have anything to do with it? Of course not! The problem was that insurance rates had gone up faster than Cheney’s heart rate whenever he hears the words “Halliburton” and “No-Bid Contract”. Would universal health care have eliminated this problem? Now, I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject, but I do think it is something we need to begin considering. Recently we seem to be big on “not following the ways of the world”, but I think the world has got it right on this one.