Saturday, September 05, 2009

Health Care Reform and You

I would be lying if I said I understand much about our health care system in America. Like many others, I have my medical insurance, pay my bills when they're due and I don't give much thought about it. I feel like my wife and I, missionaries without much disposable income, have to raise an awful lot of money each month to cover that insurance but our coverage is good and has seen us through the births of our four children.

As a Christian that is concerned about the care received by those without much in the way of financial means, I think there is something inherently wrong in a system in which millions in the wealthiest country on earth do not have access to treatment that should be available to them. I wonder to what extent the government has the responsibility to care for its citizens and what kind of role the Church could more intentionally play in caring for the sick.

But I don't know if what is being proposed nationally now will solve the problem, either. Justin Taylor, on his blog Between Two Worlds, suggests we read the article How American Health Care Killed My Father, to get an interesting take on the issue. Written in the Atlantic, David Goldhill shares how his experiences with his now-deceased father shaped his thoughts on health care reform. The complete article can be read here, but here is an excerpt:
"Keeping Dad company in the hospital for five weeks had left me befuddled. How can a facility featuring state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment use less-sophisticated information technology than my local sushi bar? How can the ICU stress the importance of sterility when its trash is picked up once daily, and only after flowing onto the floor of a patient’s room? Considering the importance of a patient’s frame of mind to recovery, why are the rooms so cheerless and uncomfortable? In whose interest is the bizarre scheduling of hospital shifts, so that a five-week stay brings an endless string of new personnel assigned to a patient’s care? Why, in other words, has this technologically advanced hospital missed out on the revolution in quality control and customer service that has swept all other consumer-facing industries in the past two generations?

I’m a businessman, and in no sense a health-care expert. But the persistence of bad industry practices—from long lines at the doctor’s office to ever-rising prices to astonishing numbers of preventable deaths—seems beyond all normal logic, and must have an underlying cause. There needs to be a business reason why an industry, year in and year out, would be able to get away with poor customer service, unaffordable prices, and uneven results—a reason my father and so many others are unnecessarily killed."
Whatever your view may be on the Obama administration, I think it seems apparent that some changes need to be made. I'm not sure what those are but I hope that those much wiser than I find a workable solution. The lives of many depend on it.

No comments: