The health care debate will show us who we really are

Mike Pence had this to say on Fox News, when questioned about health care:

CARLSON: But if after a year or two of giving people more choices, millions fewer Americans had health insurance, would that be worth it?

PENCE: Well, it’s — it’s — the very essence of living in a free society is people get to make their own decisions. But the president and I truly believe that if you lower the cost of health insurance, if you give Americans more choices in health insurance, that more Americans will choose, more employers will choose, to have and offer health insurance to their employees and have health insurance for their families.

See story here

Essence of a free society?

Well, yes, people will choose—to provide food, shelter and clothing for themselves and their kids first. These are immediate and critical needs. Without them, there can be no other desire because there would be no one to have the desire. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pretty much explained this: basic things necessary to survive have to be provided before safety can even be considered.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg

Here are the facts: The per-capita spending on health care in the country is about $10,000 now. But, using that draws bad conclusions. The chart below stratifies spending by on whom the money is spent.

22% of health care dollars, or $704 billion, is spent on 1% of the population—an average of $220,000 per person.

50% of health care dollars, or $1.6 trillion, is spent on 1% of the population—an average of $100,000 per person.

The healthiest 50% in the country use about 3% of total spending—an average of $600 per person.

health care fund strata

See source here

 

Conservatives have said that people need to just lay down their cell phones and cancel their cable television and that then they would be—magically—able to afford health care. Well, if one is very healthy, this might be achievable, because for a very healthy family of four, the annual expenditure would be about $200 a month.

The problem is that we are all are one gene, one accident, one injury away from becoming one of the top 5% or 1%. There are also a substantial number of people in these groups who are in the bottom 10% of net worth and earnings.

Yeah, if we live in the dream world of Ayn Rand (Paul Ryan does), then we would not worry about others, taking care of ourselves only. After all, it is not our fault we are healthy, right? Every man for himself—rugged individualism is the American way, right?

I hear many conservatives say that they have empathy, that they care about others, but far too many say these things and do not act on them, do not want to sacrifice for the good of others less fortunate.

They say that it is bad lifestyle choices that cause more illness than genetics. Maybe—I am not going to argue this because it is like asking, “Why are you homeless?” before buying the woman lunch. It is not for us to judge, it is for us to help. What bothers me the most is when I hear alleged Christians say this in defense of why they do not help the poor. Yeah, yeah, I know—Jesus said the poor would be with us always. Jesus, when talking about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, also taught this:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40

I know, we are not a Christian nation, but there is a large percentage of us who profess Christianity or at lease adherence to some of its core values (yes, I am aware of all the horrible things in the Bible, but if we focus on the Beatitudes and other words indicated as having been said by Jesus, we can find good values). A large percentage of elected Republicans also assert their religion and their desire to follow God when voting to deny health care to the poor.

In the end, this is more than a debate about who has access to health care; it is a debate about who we are. Do we care about others or not.

 

July 27, 2017

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