Healthy Nation, Under God

As the old saying goes, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.” In my mind, there are still some virtues in life—such as honor, nobility, and courage—more significant than a healthy heart or vital lungs, but good health is pretty darn important on everyone’s grand scale.

I thus find it hard to believe that in the United States of America—the greatest civilized nation on the face of the earth—a debate still rages about whether or not its citizens deserve basic healthcare. If we believe in supporting public education, roads and infrastructure—then why not something as important as our own health? At its core, the question is this: Is receiving medical treatment a fundamental American right, or is it still only a privilege for those lucky enough to have insurance to pay for it?

When I was in dental school back in the early eighties, just the mention of universal health care sparked outrage among my colleagues. We questioned the wisdom of government regulation in something so specialized. Selfishly, we didn’t appreciate Uncle Sam capping our earning potential, but we also knew how inherently difficult it would be to implement the dreaded single payer system. We used the same arguments that you’re hearing today—quality of care will plummet, wait times will become interminable, individual choices will all but disappear, doctors will become disgruntled, costs will skyrocket, and our economy will collapse!

Fast forward four decades and the dispute rages on. Understandably, my thoughts on the matter are bit different now than before. Through personal circumstances and shared experiences, I’ve witnessed the devastating effects of preexisting conditions on one’s ability to obtain affordable coverage. I’ve felt first-hand the frustration of having to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket costs due to the routine exclusion of vital mental health benefits. Year after year—as a small business owner—I’ve footed the bill for employee health plans while watching helplessly as benefits decline and premiums soar.

Meanwhile, out-of-touch politicians personally protect themselves and their families with their fancy, gold-plated health plans while slashing the coverage of those who need it the most. Where’s the compassion, care, and concern? Where’s the kind-heartedness and gentleness? Where’s the HUMANITY? How can anybody in their right mind campaign against basic human decency and dignity? When those on Capitol Hill vote to dismantle their own individual health plans, then I’ll listen to what they say. Until then, I want exactly what they’re having.

I’m thoroughly convinced now that basic healthcare should be a right of every single American. The Affordable Care Act in its current form has many flaws, but we must adhere to the premise that all Americans, regardless of health and preexisting conditions are entitled to a basic, life-enhancing level of medical care in this country. Settling for anything less flies in the face of our Judeo-Christian roots.

In order to keep any healthcare system financially sustainable, compromises are required, and expectations will need to be tempered. If we want the system to work, we may need to wait a bit longer for non-urgent services. So what if we have to occasionally swallow a generic pill. Those who desire upgrades can pay for them accordingly. In the meantime, fraud and abuse will need to be curbed, tort reform enacted, and individual accountability ramped up. More educational programs will need to be instituted. We simply can’t let the neglect of a vital issue like basic healthcare lead to the deception, division, and destruction of our great nation. After all, every other developed country on this planet has found a way to provide for their own. If the United States of America can put a man on the moon, surely we’ll be able to find a way to take care of people closer to home.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” As a democracy tasked with putting the right people in office, we’d be wise to take heed. Our nation’s health is hanging in the balance.

John Huang is a retired orthodontist. He currently serves as a sports columnist for Nolan Media Group. If you enjoy his writing, you can read more at www.huangswhinings.com or follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.

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12 thoughts on “Healthy Nation, Under God

  1. I am not sure either way. On one hand I like the idea of everyone having basic health care, but on the other hand it seems to me that everything the Federal Government touches becomes far too complicated and expensive and eventually faces a crisis.

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  2. Great article, John. I must admit my views have changed on this issue over time. Seeing the real difference the provision of basic healthcare coverage has had for some of our homeless friends has been the primary factor in my altering my view.

    The challenge, as you point out, is figuring out how to pay for it. In my opinion, the big insurance companies have gotten fat off the premium (sorry for the bad pun) prices we’ve paid over the years. The question is, if we turn the reigns over to politicians, will it just be the politicians getting rich instead of the insurance executives?

    But I agree, we need to find a way to make this a reality.

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    1. As in so many difficult issues, it often comes down to money. Perhaps starting with just some guaranteed basic coverage regardless of preexisting health or finances is a baby step in the right direction. Those who want more flexibility, convenience, and access can certainly pay more for that privilege. I’ll let you put the checks and balances on the insurance companies. Pastor James can put the whammy on the crooked politicians.

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    1. Politicians utilizing this issue as a political football are “the least of these” in my opinion. Hopefully some compassion and common sense will rise from the rubble in the upcoming elections.

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  3. I agree completely with the idea of health care coverage for all. The benefit of this will be seen with a healthier and less costly system down the road a few years. We must get past this idea of how much is this costing me NOW. It is a very complex issue, no doubt, but something we need to spend time working to make it happen. Thanks for tackling a controversial and difficult topic.

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    1. Always good getting the perspective from other health care practitioners. The view from the trenches is often quite different than those making the crucial decisions while sitting on the golden thrones

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  4. Healthcare for all is a great idea and even when the government tried to mandate it by requiring everyone to get health insurance at a cost that was affordable – free for some – and when company’s were required to offer it at affordable cost to the employee – or pay HUGH fines – and when employees would be fined if that did not take it – some refused and paid the fine. Some just simply do not want to be helped, Even if they have to pay for it – at a very reasonable price. They want it for free. This is a very real underlying problem. As it is with a lot of welfare plans. Now don’t go off on me. I am all for health care for all and some welfare programs are needed and serve a wonderful purpose. If everyone had insurance – that were offered it – I believe the cost of insurance would go done dramatically. But until that is made to happen – well no such savings. The current administration took the teeth out of the law by dropping the fine. Yes – health care for all. How to pay for it – well this is the big question. I totally agree with John. Politicians need to be on the same plans as every american. This also applies to retirement plans. A fix to Social Security – put ALL government workers in it. Keep up the good work John.

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    1. I think many would be surprised how quickly a fix comes when lawmakers and their families are subject to the same plans and options as their constituents. I will vote for you as retirement, social security, and healthcare czar.

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