Day Two of the “Last Third of Your Life” seminar was a mixture of actuarial tables, conversations about transitions, and penetrating questions surrounding the looming unknown.
The sessions were interesting and informative, but the bottom line for me turned out to be less a question of, “will we be able to afford to retire” as “I can’t believe so much in the way of resource allocation is going to turn – is already turning – on the question of health.”
And I’m not talking about the unique-to-us bottom line Rebekah and I will be looking at by the time we move into the world of Medicare, Part A, Part B, and then supplemental coverage. What I am talking about is a collective – a social or public policy – concern: the galloping, almost exponential, progression of medical (and consequently insurance) costs, and the absurdity of specifically coding and monetizing literally every describable detail of every possible element that comprises a health-related interaction.
ENOUGH!!! Sometimes I’d think I’d like to stand on a desk somewhere in the middle of the (disturbingly symbiotic) juxtaposition of the world of medicine and insurance, and simply shout, “STOP IT!” at the top of my voice.
When codes and billing (rather than “care”) define healthcare delivery, and the living heartbeat of the industry becomes revenue rather than restoration, then I believe it is past time to re-imagine the entire system.
In fact, I’ll say that rather than going “too far,” the essential premise of Obamacare fails to even scratch the surface of going far enough!
But I shouldn’t be surprised, not when I remember that we live in a culture where almost everything has become a commodity, and where we attempt to place a dollar value on every conceivable element of what it means to be alive. It all fits snugly – and disturbingly – into the cultural value that a meaningful life necessarily revolves around money, and that we really can reduce (and by reduce I really do mean reduce) everything to the common denominator of price.
COMPASSION: So I can’t help but be reminded of the classic encounter between the disciples and a man begging for money (like money was what mattered) in Acts 3:
And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
- The value that fuels our transactions must make a shift from currency to community;
- Rather than write billable code we should document acts of grace;
- Instead of reaching for the bottom line we should reach out to “the least of these.”
No, I don’t have a practical solution – not yet. But I do own a sense of profound dis-ease. I believe that – in the world of medicine – profit is increasingly counterproductive both in terms of quality care and equitable access.
Yes, this kind of thinking is an anomaly in a society governed by the rules of free-market enterprise. But it’s important that we free ourselves from narrow-mindedness – and most especially politics – when looking for solutions.
Let’s keep the conversation open. Peace – DEREK