Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Affordable Health Care Act … And Other Matters

Plenty of other people are qualified to talk about the legislation and economics and public policy implications of what even President Obama now calls “Obamacare.”  I’m not going to talk about it on such lofty terms.  I’m just going to tell my story.

Back in the 1980s-90s, I had a great salary in a marvelous job with generous, employer-sponsored health insurance.   
But I quit my job in 1996 due to “irreconcilable differences” with management.  I had a pretty good living as a trainer/consultant in my field.  What I did not have was health insurance, after the 12 months of COBRA coverage expired. 
At that point, I was in my early 40s.  But I knew that accidents could occur.  Health issues could emerge.  And I was in a state of depression, for various reasons.
I had a fear that I might have an accident or medical trauma.  I told all my friends that they were not to call 9-1-1 nor to take me to an emergency room if I were ill or injured.  I carried a card in my wallet that said the same. They were to let me die.  That was my preference.  If I was bleeding to death or having a heart attack, they were to let me die.
Why?  Partly, because I didn’t much care then whether I lived or died … and slightly preferred to die.  But I had also decided that I would not incur the debts that would come if I were given emergency treatment and the huge medical bills that would entail.  Without insurance, I knew, I could not afford to pay the hospital bills … and I didn’t want to owe my soul to a Philadelphia hospital.  My preference was to die without medical care rather than be hounded by hospital bills for years.
Today, I have health insurance again through my employer. But I will never forget how I felt in those years when I lacked any insurance and decided death would be preferable to huge medical bills.
I am furious as I watch Congress play with the Affordable Health Care Act.  Do they not realize that lives are at stake?  What makes me most angry:  The legislators who most loudly claim to be “Christian” or “evangelical” seem most opposed to the Affordable Health Care Act.  What must they do to (a) take their voting positions and (b) tear whole sections out of the Bible? 
Jesus healed the sick.  He didn’t require an insurance card.  He didn’t ask if they were worthy.  He didn’t ask if their dad was a meth-dealer or if their mother was a whore.  He didn’t ask if they had a GED.  He didn’t parse the worthy from the “unworthy.”  He healed them all. ALL!!
Legislators in Missouri and in the U.S. Congress:  Many of you claim to be Christians. So let’s see some Christ-like behavior from you! And many of you claim this is a Christian nation.  So let’s see some Christian legislation.  Feed the hungry.  Heal the sick.  Give the laborer a living wage.  You beat your chests, saying you are Good Christians.  Let’s see you act as Jesus Christ acted.