Thursday, June 26, 2014

Has Health Insurance Hurt the Church?

Yup, I'm pretty sure this is a controversial topic and I am also pretty sure I would like some feedback from you on it.

This is something that I have thought about off and on over the last couple years maybe, but it has really been driven home to me over the last six months.  First off, this is not a plea for money--we are abundantly blessed, as I plan to point out.  Second, it is not a diatribe against health insurance.  Third, it is meant to hold me accountable for putting my money where my mouth is about to be.

Let me share our story:  We have Samaritan Ministries--we send our money to a family in need every month. If there are more needs than money, the need is prorated, which means you will not get enough money to pay off your whole hospital bill.  So when Nicole was born, we turned in our need.  It was prorated to 85%, meaning we had close to $1000 that was not going to be covered by the ministry.  To my money-bothered brain, this looked big.  You add to that a total combination of 4 weeks off work between D and I and the number looked staggering.  What happened?  We got some extra money from Samaritan Members, some money in sympathy cards and an offering from a church group.  We ended up with an extra $50 (if I count the one bill we got 5 months later)  I felt bad when we got the check from the church in the mail.  After all, we had insurance, but as someone told me, you have other expenses as well.  That was true and I like to think the money was put to very good use.

Which brings to a thought that I am afraid is becoming popular among Christians.  You have health insurance--therefore you do not need our monetary support.  If you don't have health insurance, you should have and therefore you still do not need our monetary support.  I am all for health insurance, but I think we are missing the big picture when we don't help our friends, family and neighbors when they are going through a rough time.

What does health insurance cover?  Medical expenses after the deductibles and co-pay which can easily be more than a bit of pocket change.

What kind of costs are incurred through hospitalization and/or death?  Time off work; extra money for food if you are not at home to eat; travel and gas expense to go see your loved one in the hospital; funeral home expense; coffins, gravestones, memorial tributes to the loved one; etc. etc.   Who pays for this?

On top of that is the fact of a simple act of sacrificial caring--it's easy enough to buy a card, write a few thoughts in it and drop it in the mail.  But what about writing out that check or putting in the cash?  It doesn't have to be much--but it says a little extra to the recipient.  It says I cared enough about you to want to help with more than just words.

Do I send money now?  That is a personal question, but I will say, I haven't completely learned everything about this, nor do I perform perfectly on this subject.  I am speaking to the choir on this, but I do hope I can look at a person in need the next time and think--I wonder what other expenses they have besides medical that I could help out with?

So what am I saying?  I am simply trying to pass on something I have learned and been challenged with and convicted in and definitely blessed by.  I'm also not saying you must send money every time.  My basic gist of this post is to say: don't write people off because they have or should have had health insurance.  Take in the big picture.

It is very troubling to me when a church/individual doesn't offer monetary support because the person has or should have had health insurance.  In my mind, true love is demonstrated by digging into the pockets to help those whose pockets incurred a leak, however temporary that may be.  What is the purpose of the church? Yes, it is to glorify God, but isn't it also to rally around our hurting brothers and sisters and show them love and compassion and in doing so, we glorify God? To weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice?

I also realize each circumstance is different and all angles need to be considered, but along with that, I don't think we should withhold money from someone because we think they are rich and able to afford the extra expenses.  Maybe they are, but maybe they would like to feel part of a community that cares about them and rallies to support them.

And now, I will come off of my hobby horse and attempt to go on about my work.  I have learned in the last 6 months that everyone's experience is different and it is humbling to be the recipient while there can be a bit of pride involved in being independent.  I've learned that people care in so many ways and I have been so blessed by all the ways people have given to us--not just in the monetary sense.

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