What do I know about health care reform? Not much. Probably about as much as the average American. I know what my gut tells me (you could even say my heart), and that is that every U.S. citizen should have access to health care. I know that’s controversial. And I know if universal health care is realized, it’s going to cost me in taxes.
But I also know that Jesus did not discriminate when he healed people; often they were poor, blind, a little crazy, and of a different cultural background or race. And he never once asked for an insurance card.
Two years ago, I went to the doctor’s office to have a routine colonoscopy. I had turned 50 and was doing what my doctor told me to do. The exam revealed I had a golf-ball size tumor. Two weeks later, I was in surgery getting seven inches of my descending colon removed. A month after that, I began a six-month regimen of chemotherapy because my tumor was at Stage III; the cancer had seeped into my lymph nodes.
I am offered excellent health care through Women of the ELCA. But say I had no health care, due to unemployment or being at a job without benefits. I would not have known I had cancer until it was far too late. I would not have had a doctor telling me it was time for my colonoscopy, and even if I knew I should get one, I might have waited–they’re expensive, and, after all, I felt just fine.
I would have waited until I was doubled over in pain, and then I would have gone to the emergency room, where the hospital would have had to treat me at even greater expense. The financial administrators could try to force me to pay–I could go into deep debt, mortgaging my house, selling my car, forking over my children’s college tuition if I had any saved. But in the end, when I just couldn’t come up with the $100,000 to pay the hospital and the doctors, and the $22,000 a month for chemotherapy, the hospital would pass the expense on.
Those of us with insurance now pay the bills of the uninsured through higher deductibles or reduced health benefits. If we, the ones with insurance, are going to pay anyway, why not pay up front? The Christian way?
Through our Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls health initiative, we strive to uplift the ideas of healing and wholeness in our church, society, and world. It is my personal belief that health care for all, especially women, often the hardest hit by lack of health insurance, is one way to establish healing and wholeness.
For the Bible tells me so.
Terri Lackey is managing editor of Lutheran Woman Today magazine.