National Health Insurance
The Blue Ribbon Commission appointed to consider National Health Insurance has finally reported. Although I don’t know the report’s contents, I’m just happy it has been submitted. I commend the government for moving in this important direction and trust that we are now one step closer towards realizing the noble national goal of quality health care for catastrophic illness for all Bahamians, regardless of their socio-economic status. Today, I write to register my voice in support of the government’s effort and to appeal to fellow Bahamians who oppose the initiative to reconsider their stance.
The Powerful Minority
In the aftermath of the Commission’s report submission, some publicly voiced their objection to the concept of National Health Insurance, citing different reasons why they feel it can’t or won’t work. This is disheartening, especially when, I reasonably suspect, the objections came, and continue to come, from those who have access to quality health care through insurance or financial means, and from individuals and institutions who benefit financially from the status quo.
Although I believe the vast majority of Bahamians support the concept of a National Health Insurance plan, I am concerned about the minority who do not. Now I would be the first to say that this sounds inconsistent on the face of it, but the minority in this case is not an ordinary minority; the individuals and institutions comprising it are a powerful minority. Simply put, this minority’s “vote”, due to economic and strategic reasons, outweighs that of the majority. As a result, they can and will better organize themselves than the majority and at the end of the day will wield a disproportionate amount of influence upon this process and perhaps the ultimate outcome. I pray they do not prevail.
The Only Discussion
It is my view that the current “for or against” National Health Insurance debate is misguided. I say this because the underlying question behind this debate is this: Is it ok for those among us without health insurance and/or the financial means, to be allowed to suffer impaired health and even death when faced with catastrophic illness while those with these means do not? Do we really need to debate this? The answer to both questions is a resounding “no”, without debate.
It seems to me that few if any would have the courage to plainly and publicly say that the status quo should remain and those without health insurance and/or the financial means should suffer impaired health and death when faced with catastrophic illness. Therefore, in my view, the only national discussion we should be having is this: How do we go about making National Health Insurance available for all? We can debate and disagree about all the approaches, methods and formulas but let’s not debate what should not be debatable.
The Issue of Contention
“It’s too expensive.” “Who will pay for those who can’t afford it?” “What happens to the private insurers?” All of the questions and the objections I have heard point back to one issue of contention…economics. While economics must of necessity be considered, it seems to me that there is much selfishness in the consideration of those who are objecting. They reflect Cain’s question to the Lord about his brother Abel: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are our brother’s keeper, whether we fulfill that obligation or not, and our willingness to provide health insurance for those who have none is one indicator by which we can prove it.
While I believe and accept that the length of our days is in the Lord’s hands, humanly speaking, I would say that many suffer and eventually die prematurely because they are unable to access much needed health care while others enjoy prolonged life. My prayer is that the government and the people of The Bahamas, including the presently unwilling minority, will all come to together and try to find the best formula we can in order to change the unacceptable status quo. We can and should, therefore, do no less.
Please note that I have decided to change from writing the Kingdom View weekly to doing so on a monthly basis. This decision has come about for various reasons, too numerous to mention here. Accordingly, beginning next month, the Kingdom View will be published on the first Thursday of the month, the next date being June 3, 2004. I trust you will continue to read it.
Cedric Moss serves as Senior Pastor at Kingdom Life
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