Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why Health Care Matters

For years now we have been debating health care.  The U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week brought it back to the headlines.  The debate rages on many levels:  whether the non-compliance fees are taxes, whether the individual mandate is constitutional, what the law will actually cost, who will be affected, how it will play out politically.

But I want to consider some deeper questions. 

Why does the government have such an interest in health care anyway?  I believe the government is interested in control, both economic and political, anywhere the they can find it.  The health care industry is a huge and growing sector of our economy.  I have been driving past Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for over 30 years, and there is almost always some construction going on.  Health care dollars at work.  So control over the health care industry puts more power in the hands of politicians.  They love power anyway, or they would not have run for office.  Taking over health care only makes sense.

But there is another question:  Why do Americans spend so much money on health care?  If someone in your family needs an expensive treatment to be cured of some dread disease, you will do anything it takes to get the treatment.  There is no limit.  You will raise the needed money, as far as possible, then borrow the rest, whether from banks or health care providers. 

Where people are willing to spend without end, the market sees a growth industry.  So the industry has grown, with layer upon layer of services related to medicine -- doctors, nurses, technicians, hospitals, urgent care clinics, pharmacies, drug companies, health insurance providers, liability insurance providers, auditors to examine billing, hospice services, and the list goes on.

We spend so much on health care because we want to cling to life, no matter what.  We assume that we can manage our health, just as we manage our portfolios.  We are in charge.  We make it happen.  We find the cure.  We do whatever it takes.  We are obsessed with living forever, or at least living comfortably. 

What could be more important than your health?  We would do well to ponder on that.  Maybe, just maybe, there are some things more important than physical health. 

We could all have different lists of "Things more important than physical health," but here are some things on my list:  relationships, character, integrity, posterity, serving others, fulfilling God's purpose for me, loving God, loving people, pursuading people of truth.

When you put it in perspective, you may wonder why health care matters so much to us.  It's time we get our priorities right.