The Sick Part About Being Sick

By: Tom Westerholm

Let me start by saying I’m not trying to tell you who to vote for this year.

Seriously. I’m not. Even if I was, you probably have your own opinion, and whatever I say won’t change that, which is fine. We all have convictions, and for some reason political campaigns seem to bring those convictions to a point of aggressive denial in which we refuse to believe or listen anything that doesn’t validate our own opinions. I don’t get that. I’m wrong a lot, and I’m well aware of it. I THINK I know what I want from a politician, but if what I want is unfeasible, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.

But I do want to tell this story.

Two years ago, I barely had health insurance, which never really bothered me. Why would I ever need to go to a hospital?

Then my stomach started hurting off and on. The pain would come in waves, sometimes strong, sometimes weak, but always a threat. When the pain was strongest, it felt like I was dragging barbed wire slowly through my stomach. I went to the doctor, and I was hospitalized for 9 days. My diagnosis was Crohn’s, an auto-immune disease that attacks the colon.

I was hospitalized three times in one year before I finally got to a point where my Crohn’s was truly under control. But in that time, a bill was passed that allowed me to go back on my parents’ insurance. My last two hospital stays would have totaled over $100,000 if I had been as underinsured as I was before.

To be clear: I may not have had any money, but my parents did. If my parents hadn’t had money, I would not have gone to the doctor. I would never have gotten healed. Honestly, I might have died. Now imagine the estimated 50.7 million people who have no health insurance in the United States right now. How many of them have parents who can help them out if they go to the hospital?

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we care for the poor and the sick, we are caring for Him. So by providing affordable healthcare for the poor and the sick, we are doing so for Jesus…right? Take it from someone who was poor and sick at the same time: our healthcare system was completely unaffordable before that bill was passed, and for some people, it remains unaffordable.

I don’t know much about economics, unless those economics deal with professional basketball. I’m not as educated on politics as I’d like, though I’m decent at pretending that I am. Don’t be fooled. I’m actually a poser.

But I know this: a healthcare system that doesn’t allow the poorest members of society to get better when they are sick isn’t very Christ-like at all.


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