Health? Care?

I’m beginning to notice something odd about the discussions of health care reform legislation in the United States.  There’s a lot of talk about money, what should be spent, what should be saved.  There’s a lot of talk about government, and corporations, and “freedom” (which, in some circles, apparently means the freedom to get sick and/or die without treatment if you happen to be less than wealthy).  I have not, on the other hand, heard much about health — as in, “what would be the best way to help people be healthy?”  I’ve heard still less about care — as in actually caring for human beings and making it a priority to minimize pain and suffering.

And that’s just the public, political discussion.  Then there are some of the individual conversations I’ve overheard.  A couple of my coworkers were going off the other day about the horrors of “government-run health care” (a phrase that is misleading in the extreme).  “It costs businesses money!!  Government stuff doesn’t work!!  How will we survive?!?!”  No mention of people who might actually be in need of health care, but unable to get it under the current system.  No mention of medicine or the people who need it.  Why would that come into the picture?  

(And this despite the fact that the subject of health coverage came up because the insurance provider our company uses increased their rates by about 50%, so we all have to switch to another provider that has lower rates, but also higher deductibles and no prescription benefits.  Right … this whole private insurance thing is working out great.)

Conversations like these just heighten my feeling that the way health care is discussed is tragic and misguided almost beyond belief.  It is a sad reflection on sinful human nature that health care, treatment of illness and injury, is treated as an industry … an opportunity for profit.  And then we are all too willing to let the profit motive run its ruthless course, often forgetting that there are lives at stake.

I hope that as the health care reform debate goes on, it will focus on the needs of human beings — all  of them, especially those who need the most.  I pray that I am not hoping in vain.

* A brief aside: as people inevitably do in such situations, they pointed out how terrible it would be if the U.S. had pitiful health care like … cue ominous music … Canada.  Since moving to the U.S. after growing up in Canada, I’ve noticed how often this is brought up.  I’ve also noticed that the people who bring it up typically have no experience whatsoever with Canadian health care.  I’ve also noticed that when my family lived in Canada we didn’t really have to worry about paying for medical treatment, whereas I have pretty much never stopped worrying about it since we got here … and I’ve been lucky.


~ by h.e.g. on June 17, 2009.

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