Each week in Watching Politics From the Pew, Benjamin Bartlett offers a thoughtful Christian perspective on the latest political happenings in the news.
What should we do about the rising cost of healthcare?
If you focus your attention on the political rhetoric surrounding this topic, you will usually hear what a candidate is against: public exchanges, insurance companies, mandated coverage, Obamacare, etc. If someone is for something, it is often for the purpose of blame, such as being for tort reform or for price controls on insurance companies.
Some of those debates are helpful. For instance, I personally think finding ways to expand the pool of the insured is a key component of good health reform. I also think tort reform and bundled payment structures based on quality of care rather than number of services are important pieces of addressing our health cost problem.
But as is so often the case, the core of health reform is not in our regulations or our laws or our market structures. It is in ourselves.
See, the problems in our health care system are significant. The system could be better designed and more efficient. But the real driver of health costs in our country isn’t an imperfect system, it’s irresponsible living. Our cost-of-healthcare problems could be almost completely solved in just a few years if every citizen committed themselves to a few basic things: eating healthy, making use of preventative care, and exercising regularly.
Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason, though: we keep returning to it like a dog to its vomit. Our national crisis is an amazing display of the simple fact that sinful humans are not good stewards of the bodies God has given them, that they consistently give in to their greed for more even when more is not needed, and that we do not pursue wisdom in all areas of our lives, no matter how much evidence shows us that we need to change.
It’s this last area –the pursuit of wisdom- where you and I need to encourage each other to change. Real wisdom pursues God’s truth and trusts His perfect knowledge. God has placed us in a unique moment in history; a moment when we know more about how to preserve our own health wisely than at any other time. And yet in so many ways we squander it, because we refuse to commit time and energy to learning and to reorganizing key aspects of how we live.
Obamacare has some good ideas, and it also has some bad ones. Republican opponents have some good alternative ideas, and they also have some bad ones. But the fact is that neither side has any real ability to target the real problem; people love pleasing themselves more than they love pursuing wisdom that God has made available to them.
Let me just take a moment to encourage you to pursue this wisdom. Learn the basics about how to be healthy. Get help in understanding your particular health needs. Set clear, measurable, attainable goals for yourself, and get accountability help in pursuing them. God has given you access to wisdom which will make you a better servant in the city of God, and a better citizen in the city of man. Little things like this can have a big impact in the advancement of the gospel.