Who pays for it?

If there is an overarching question in the current health care debate in the United States it is this: Who’s going to pay for it? The financial bottom line—of government programs, insurance companies, physicians’ practices, hospital administrations, and families, alike—is the bottom line in health care (and many other issues).

The financial viability of our health care system is crucial and must be addressed, regardless of the fate in practice of the Affordable Care Act. But the question I keep coming back to as I dig into the underside of our system is this: Who is paying for health care as it is? Who is suffering because of the way things are?

If the relative virtue or vice of a society is reflected in the way it treats those Jesus of Nazareth referred to as “the least of these”—people who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in prison, or from somewhere else—then our society is in big trouble.

Our cultural myth of rugged individualism and self-reliance enables our practiced indifference to “the least of these” by assuring us that we earn everything we have. When we don’t have, we nevertheless do have the opportunity to have, it says. We are the people who “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” Too bad for those who can’t because they are too sick.

But shouldn’t being sick be the primary qualification for a person to see a doctor or have a necessary surgical procedure? Shouldn’t staying healthy be qualification enough for a person, made in the image of God, to receive preventive care in order to stay that way?

I can hear a likely response to my idealistic questions now: “Who’s going to pay for that?”

I don’t know, but I do know who is paying for it now. Before we start crunching numbers we need to re-consider the bottom line beneath our bottom line.

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One Thought to “Who pays for it?”

  1. karl wheeler

    here is the unintended consequence of not knowing who is going to pay. our government has made it clear that they have no problem borrowing the money to pay for things they cannot afford. what happens in the long run, is to pay back the debt, which they cannot do, they must devalue the currency.
    why did something that cost .50 ten years ago cost $1 today? because the dollar is worth half as much. who cares? the elderly first. they saved with the assumption that the dollar they saved would have value. it does not. next, the poor are hurt, for they have no hedges, real estate or the like.
    notice how many old people you see working at walmart, or mcdonalds- these are often victims of spending without considering.

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