Sunday, August 31, 2008

Health Care: Are We Our Brother's Keeper?

One redeeming aspect of Christianity may lie in its teaching that we are, indeed, our brother's keeper. I would only submit that there is nothing uniquely Christian about aspiring to this ideal. A certain secular version of this maxim is unquestionably embedded into the fabric of our humanity. Some have even suggested that our DNA, along with our Darwinian legacy, offer explanations for the very origins of altruism altogether. Suffice it to say, as social beings we are all called to one another for the purpose of attaining - and sustaining - our good health and well-being.

Despite this principle, the politically popular idea of "taking personal responsibility" seems to be clouding our understanding, as well as affecting our interpretation, of the well-intentioned "brother's keeper" doctrine. There is, of course, the belief among many that a particular economic model provides greater opportunities for people to accept their responsibilities meaning more of our brothers can tend to themselves. But these models don't provide opportunities for everyone and leave unattended the needs of many. Invariably, a number of people are left on the outside looking in despite the impressive wealth-producing effects some of these economic models have on society.

An important question raised by these problems relates to the proper role of government in providing their solutions. Certain conservative schools believe the role of government to be that of cultivating a business environment which would incentivize an even more comprehensive brand of capitalism thereby providing self-lifting opportunities for an even greater number of people. Former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is on record as suggesting a newer "creative capitalism" which would identify emerging micromarkets in many of the world's impoverished regions in the hopes of raising the standard of living for millions while at the same time earning profits for shareholders.

Does this theory suggest that some form of capitalism is the best hope for those left behind? Teaching people how to fish rather than just handing them fish makes perfect sense - at least insofar as it applies to those who have the capacity to learn. For the sick and disabled, a slice of this proverbial pie is not within reach. Who tends to them?

Here again, purists say government is not the solution, suggesting even health care is more properly managed by profit-seeking entities. Only the facts appear to say otherwise. A sustainable, profit-driven model has yet to emerge as a viable option for providing comprehensive health care to an entire society, and this is likely due to the fact that including everyone would eviscerate the bottom line of any profit-driven scheme.

Which brings us back to the question of how to best serve as our brother's keeper. Given that the needs of so many are immediate, the imperative would seem to lie in committing the resources - yes, public resources - necessary to provide a safety net for those who are neglected by our present health care infrastructure.

When circumstances demand it, the assets of government can be essential tools for dealing with the problems private innovation has yet to solve.


  1. Whoa. This posts speaks to me, for I have am going through rought times, for lack of a more politically correct description, with insurance companies.

    We were under the impression(A nicer word for assumed) that we were totally covered with the insurance we were paying for.

    Now, you have to remember, becuase I hva MS, I do not have the luxury of going uninsured. For if I do, and by some stroke of luck I do acquire some illness that could be connected to MS, then I get diddly coverage.

    We paid for 3 months, but when my physical therapy bills came in and my neurosurgeons bill came in we found out we were not covered, for we did not have the right type of insurance. Then what were we paying for?

    So we have been on thee end of the spectrum where we need thee insurance, but cannot afford it. Yep, if you do not work for some big corporation then you are up the creek.

    I know this is not exactly what you posted about and I swear I try to keep my comments short, but for some odd reason that does not seem to be happening.

    I will tell you this, our current system is in shambles, and is on a collision course, I just hope we have the wits about us to find a better solution before we have a train wreck!

    *Sorry about my long comments Bill, but thanks for listening*

  2. Red: Your comments are not long-winded in the least. They reveal an important, and pertinent, story. For people in your situation, I would say the train wreck has already occurred. You should be protected by everyone else via the machinery of gevernment. I do not envy you your situation. We're pulling for you.

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