Before entering into the Obamacare debate, I should probably mention that I am among those who suffer from a major pre-existing medical condition. It is not pretty but I have to deal with it. This condition has no cure. I know it can strike me at any time and leaves behind enormous hospital bills. There are things I can do to take care of myself and attenuate my condition’s bad effects. But the painful fact is that, as it reaches its final phases, the more the health establishment works to defeat this condition in me, the more expensive it becomes.
The sad thing is that I am not the only one with this pre-existing condition. In fact, I share it with everyone. My pre-existing condition is called death. We all suffer from it, and it is like a ticking time bomb inside of each of us that can at any time explode and land us in the hospital with all its liabilities.
And so in discussing health care, we should begin with the premise that there is no single health care system in the world that can defeat death. The health establishment will always lose since the numbers are stacked against it. If a system is forced to deal with every single threat to the body, it will either go bankrupt or provide substandard subsidized service.
Indeed, the monopoly of death is so strong that even the free market cannot withstand its unfair advantages without help. Death does not believe in level playing fields but rather ruthlessly levels anything in its way.
There is only one way a health care system can survive the universal pre-existing condition of death. It must share the responsibility, costs and risks with those outside the system. It must enlist the help of society to meet the challenge and minimize the costs.
This can be done in two ways: one positive and one negative.
The positive way is by promoting good health and thus preventing illness.
Society does this by promoting the natural institutions that make for good health. It puts up the safety nets of family, community and faith that keep us healthy.
It is especially true in the bosom of the traditional family where the individual finds affection, wellbeing and security that put up strong defenses against death’s inroads. When people are inserted into thriving families, communities and parishes, they more easily lead moral lives, which not only support physical health but also the all-important spiritual and mental welfare. These safety nets significantly diminish the immense tribute that we must pay to death.
Indeed, to survive, any health care system must cooperate with these natural institutions that keep out sickness, which is the breach through which death frequently tries to enter our lives.
There is a second way to enlist help against death. It consists not of preventing but dealing with illness and death when it inevitably comes.
Most health problems, for example, can be resolved inside the family without cost to the health establishment. Inside the family, everyone from tender children to elderly parents finds spiritual comfort, psychological well-being and physical care in times of illness. Even when death strikes, the family softens the blow with solace and support. It is around this affectionate relationship that a true health policy must be constructed since the family has the resilience and resources to absorb death’s repeated attacks.
But the family alone is not sufficient. There are times when it is overwhelmed by health challenges. It is then that associations and communities must provide a second line of defense. Employers can provide health benefits. Communities can sponsor health programs. Associations of all sorts can pool resources to lessen the burden. A grateful nation can reward the sacrifices of veterans of war by caring for them. A highly innovative free market can provide numerous options that aid the family in its resistance to death’s fatal charges.
In this way, families and communities can usually take care of almost all health problems. They cannot stop death but they can certainly minimize its devastation and cost.
But death is a terrible and formidable enemy. At times, even these two safety nets are not enough. Catastrophes frequently strike and leave us prostrate.
When catastrophe strikes, the third safety net of faith must be employed. The fiery furnace of charity must be unleashed to resist the cold dark grasp of death. Medicine must then return to its origins in charity and Faith.
In modern times, civilized nations have always promoted institutions, children’s hospitals and charitable foundations to care for those stricken by catastrophe and incurable disease. Even the State and secular associations engage in work of this kind.
However, the real powerhouses of charity are those religious institutions that have cared for the sick and dying. It must be remembered that modern hospitals began in the medieval monasteries where for the first time in history the poor and suffering could gather for free care. Over the centuries, a vast network of religious hospitals reserved beds for the unfortunate. Religious orders of nursing sisters worked selflessly and without salaries to care for the sick and dying.
With touching solicitude, the Church went yet further. When the poor could not come to the hospitals, Her ministers went out in search of them, providing them physical and spiritual solace. Moreover, all Christians join in the mandate to care for and comfort those who suffered illness wherever they might be.
Inside this triple safety-net framework of family, community and faith, we have the best means to confront the universal pre-existing condition of death. Amid the tragedy, we can face death inside an atmosphere of support, affection and dignity.
Our health care challenges today come from the fact that our culture of unrestraint has led to the breakdown of family, community and faith. The individual is left alone to face overwhelming challenges.
The problem is aggravated yet more when these individuals give themselves over to unhealthy practices and promiscuous lifestyles outside these safety nets, which leads to the shattering of good health, broken lives and psychological trauma. This not only provokes sickness but creates an underclass that is least able to meet the costs of its bad habits. The burden is thrown over to big government.
The logical solution would be to strengthen the safety nets. But on the contrary, these nets are being dismantled and in their place is put a giant spider web of rules and regulations that engulfs rather than protects the individual. A cold bureaucratic government assumes all roles, makes all decisions and spends a vast amount of taxpayer’s money. The tyranny of socialism is joining with the tyranny of death to impose a rule of misery upon the land.
Health care policy must be based on the premise that no health care system can withstand an unhealthy culture that actively allies itself with the pre-existing condition of death. No government can replace the social safety nets that share the responsibility, risks and costs of death. Such efforts are doomed to fail no matter how much money we pump into the system.
When it does fail, we must turn away from those who will propose more socialism. What we need to do now is take down the spider web of government intervention and put up the safety nets of a sound social order. For those with the pre-existing medical condition like my own, it is the only real option.