My healthcare provider is not a traditional insurance company. We belong to an organization that helps members share the cost of healthcare with one another. In very simple terms, when someone gets sick, the others who belong to the organization send them money to pay their medical bills.
If you ask me if I am pleased with this arrangement, my answer right now is “yes” and “I don’t know.” I am very pleased that each month I send off less than half the amount I was paying for insurance before. The “I don’t know” part is because I have not had any medical bills since I have been a member so I don’t have any experience of how well it works.
Every month we receive notice of an individual or family that has a need and the amount we should send. We write out a check and send it directly to the person with the need. It seems to work. There are more than 20,000 families involved with this organization. There are a few rules but it is quite simple. I am expected to pay for my own costs if they are less than $300 and members are expected to be active in church and not abusers of drugs or alcohol. Easy enough for me.
Certainly I like the lower cost for health insurance, but I also like the plan because it seems to be consistent with what the early church did in the Book of Acts. We are sharing what we have to take care of those who have a need. It is a very organized way of carrying one another’s burdens. That seems to be a Christ-like thing.
The leaders of this organization (they do have a Board of Directors and a staff) are not always in agreement with my political ideas. I have gleaned this from reading some of the inserts they send with each month’s newsletter. However, that is really not a problem for me. I’m fine with people who don’t agree with me on everything. In fact, I often say that I don’t even agree with myself on everything. We are all striving for the same goal of helping one another, which supersedes political conformity in my mind.
It would be a very lonely world if I could only interact with those who view the world with the same perspective. To be honest, I like the challenge of a good debate about politics, or religion, or theology, or sports. I just don’t see any need to be mean or angry toward those who disagree. Learn to think logically, develop some communication skills, and join the debate. Just be kind.
Last month, in addition to the name of the family that needed help with their medical bills, I received an email about another matter. They were asking me to give financial support to a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary film. According to the film’s trailer it is essentially a call to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it calls for government interference in our healthcare. Apparently it will be a catastrophe for all us to put our money together and distribute it to those who have needs (although that is NOT what the Affordable Care Act is all about).
It struck me as odd when I read this email that what they are against is exactly what they are doing. Each month we all pool our resources and share with those who have a need. If the best approach to providing good healthcare is for everyone to share the costs so that everyone can benefit, it seems a bit ironic that we would openly oppose those who advocate this approach.
I think this is an example of what happens to most of us. We choose a side and then blindly support that side without giving much thought to the specific issues. If I am going to side with a political party then I must support everything they stand for, sometimes even finding myself speaking against something I actually think might be good.
That is what I think happened with my health insurance providers. They have aligned themselves politically with a particular party. When that party takes a strong position, they felt it necessary to help out, even when it seemed contradictory to their beliefs. If it works for 20,000 Christian families to join together and help one another, there should be some merit in 300 million Americans doing the same thing. The logical position for this group would be to advocate for completely pooling our money together and taking care of one another.
Now, I’m not saying that is what we should do. All I am doing is pointing out how difficult it is to be consistent when we give all our allegiance to one group. No one (even political parties) is right on everything. It is possible to be wrong on everything, but that is probably not the case with America’s political parties. Both sides consist of good people and bad people, selfish people and generous people, intelligent people and idiots. We need to get rid of the mentality of choosing a side and sticking with it regardless of right or wrong.
It is said that sports fans don’t cheer for athletes, we cheer for laundry. In other words, we root for the athletes wearing our team’s uniform. Once that athlete switches teams we can easily root for their failure. For several years I wanted Josh Hamilton to hit a home run every at bat. Then he switched teams, said some unflattering things about my team, and I found myself hoping he would strike out every time he batted. That’s fine for a sports fan.
However, it is not a good approach in any other arena. In real life it is important that we cheer for the person not the uniform they are wearing. Helping people pay their medical bills should be more important than supporting a political position or party. It is fine to take the position that government helping people is not the best approach, but make sure you make your case while you are doing everything you can to help those same people.