Perspectives on Healthcare

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could miss anyone else’s point in this age of thoughtful and informed civil discourse, but here we are. So for what it’s worth…

I’ve never had to pay attention to health care. I always just had it. I didn’t even have to understand my insurance, and I never bothered to try. I went to doctors when I needed to and someone took care of bills. That’s not true for me anymore because I no longer have guaranteed employment, and now I have a history of cancer that will likely affect my premiums, possibly dramatically and devastatingly. So I’m more personally aware of the fragility of access to health care than I’ve ever been in my life.

But that’s not the point. At all. The outrage over the House’s repeal of the ACA isn’t about people’s individual situations or about the specifics of the new bill. It’s about the whole. We’re at odds over whether we as a society should take responsibility for each other. We’re arguing about school choice for the same reason. If I have good health insurance and can see the doctors I want, then the system is working well. If my kids’ schools are well resourced and I’m happy with their teachers, then public education is fine.

Jen Hatmaker suggested in her last book that we use this “benchmark” to evaluate our positions: “If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.” That resonated with me deeply. When we base our political stances on what we know, based on our own perspectives, we miss so much. It’s easy to assume that if we can get through college, secure a good job, move into a nice neighborhood, and sign our kids up for competitive soccer, ballet, swim team, or whatever -everyone else should be able to do the same. But we’re wrong. Everyone isn’t positioned the same way. And that is OUR problem because it reflects the system and the social values that we are all responsible for creating.

The images of the overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, and undeniably wealthy crowd celebrating at the White House yesterday served as a symbol of the power imbalance that we keep trying to deny exists. Those are the people the system is working for. But if it isn’t also true for the (fill in the blank -single mom, woman of color, transgender person, immigrant), it isn’t true. And we’re all responsible.

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