Healthcare - Giving or Greed?

As with any long-term solution, both compassion and wisdom must be integral parts of any healthcare solution. Capitalism and socialism must find ways to compromise on this very important issue; otherwise, the mounting problems we see in the United States regarding healthcare will worsen -- to the point of tearing apart the very fabric of our country.

The bottom line of capitalism, driven by stockholders and investors, is presently out of synch with basic human decency. We are in danger of defining ourselves as insensitive to the weak and those unable to speak for themselves. This is a troubling development for such a brave and giving country, and an indication of where our country could be headed, as well as a hint as to why the rest of the world is beginning to feel quite differently about us than they have in the past.


Hospital emergency rooms are no longer "emergency" rooms; they are waiting rooms, crowded beyond belief with the poor and uninsured. Where else can they go? If it wasn't for hospital emergency rooms, a large segment of our population would have no healthcare at all, something that does not happen in any other industrialized country in the world.

Healthcare - Giving or Greed?

A difficult, albeit compassionate-in-the-short-term burden faces our hospitals; they cannot turn patients away that have no money. If the hospitals turned people away, as they do in many underdeveloped countries, then we would be either forced to do something about it, if we have any semblance of compassion left at all, or we would look the other way and "tsk, tsk," as we do with our mentally ill that are living in the streets.

Even our middle class, who believes that they have insurance coverage, is never certain when their Insurance company may decide not to cover their claims. In the present atmosphere in this country, insurance companies, as well as all health related companies, can do as they please . . . as long as they satisfy their stockholders.

The karma generated by indifference to our fellow human beings, that are not as wealthy as we are, is slowly affecting our entire culture. Our competitiveness in manufacturing is falling behind other countries because employers bear the brunt of healthcare costs, which is at variance with all other industrialized nations.

This additional expense causes our auto manufacturers, for example, to produce substandard vehicles, and dismal sales, that might already be irreversible, are beginning to reflect the damage. All the while, people are losing their homes because of healthcare expenses, they are going bankrupt and experiencing stress related illnesses over and above their primary ailments, just because of the additional stress the healthcare system inflicts upon them.

Unless we truly want to divide our country into two classes, where we must be either wealthy or dirt poor to get help, which would de-incentivize the vast majority of our population, we must all share the burden of our less fortunate countrymen and countrywomen. If things don't change quickly, the discontent among the majority of the common people, who are being left behind, will build, and someday someone will come along that will speak for them. This has happened throughout history, and heads have rolled. It will be traumatic for all that are presently involved in unfairness of any kind, regardless of how clever and convincing their arguments may be about bottom lines, profit and economics. Time has a way of chipping away at deception . . . and time is running out.

Our present system, controlled by powerful people and institutions, must find solutions to our healthcare problems, and quickly, if they are to survive the coming changes. If the pleas of the common folks continue to be ignored, sudden, drastic upheavals will devastate these institutions. The sleeping giant that is mainstream America is just now awakening.

There is still time for compromise, but not much. Profits before people work only when people are asleep, and the alarm clock is ringing. Four "musts" will eventually have to be satisfied; the first "must" is universality -- that every citizen, regardless of age or financial status, will be covered for basic healthcare, including, inpatient, outpatient, and medications.

The second "must" is that the costs will be shared by everybody. The employer based system is presently breaking down, as more firms hire only part time employees or illegal immigrants to avoid the yoke of health care; or are refusing to offer healthcare at all. Employer based healthcare must be eliminated and another, more equitable system found. There are many models worldwide. Our income tax system and our healthcare system are disasters, complicated beyond reason.

The third "must" is that no one should ever again lose their life's savings or assets because of health related expenses, while stockholders and corporations reap the benefits. This means the end of red tape; the elimination of forms, deductibles, exclusions, pre-existing conditions, complicated programs to sort through, and all the horrible loopholes that make our present healthcare system a virtual hell for everyone, especially older people who cannot cope with these kinds of complications, such as trying to determine which pharmaceutical plan covers their many medications. It's becoming absurd.

The fourth "must" is about our culture, and what we have become. We profess to treasure life, yet we continue to inflict capital punishment. We profess freedom of religion, yet surreptitiously debase anyone who dares believe other than we do. If we cannot live what we profess publicly, then we are living a lie, and living a lie has consequences. It all comes down to making a fundamental shift within each of us; we either live the truth, or admit that we cannot. We must become compassionate, and that means we must become honest.

If we are deceiving someone, anyone, we need to stop. Just . . . stop. If your organization is deceiving people, or worse -- lying to people through the media that the organization is compassionate, while stealing from people behind their backs, then fight against it, or just quit. The world begins with each of us, and each of us must have the courage to change ourselves; it's the only way the world will ever change. Just look at the constant warfare in the world.

Pointing fingers at the other guy is simply refusing to look at ourselves. The world, the corporations, the governments only reflect what we are, they are made up of people just like us, and if we are anything other than honest, the karma we are making will someday devastate our lives.

It is a universal law.

Healthcare - Giving or Greed?

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit []