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.
Once again, it involves the safety nets of family, community and faith since they provide the natural means to treat sickness and share the burden of illness and death.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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