We're All In This Together
The Connection won't be blogging much about health care reform until we understand it better. However, today's New York Times has an entire special section devoted to the new health care landscape. I was particularly intrigued by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar's article, No Matter What, We Pay for Others' Bad Habits.
Here's the quote that caught my eye:
But personal responsibility is a complex notion, especially when it comes to health. Individual choices always take place within a broader, messy context. When people advocate the need for personal accountability, they presuppose more control over health and sickness than really exists. Unhealthy habits are one factor in disease, but so are social status, income, family dynamics, education and genetics. Patient noncompliance with medical recommendations undoubtedly contributes to poor health, but it is as much a function of poor communication, medication costs and side effects, cultural barriers and inadequate resources as it is of willful disregard of a doctor's advice.
Those thoughts remind us that we are all in this together when it comes to health. We participate in a web of care, and while we like to think of individuals as at the center of that web, our current model of care overwhelmingly places the dispenser of care at the center.
So, you might ask, what does that mean for the church? It means that we have to be able to hold in tension our own needs, habits, and accountability with the needs of the community, nation, and world to create an environment where all can flourish -- not just those with education, money, and access, but everyone. The United Methodist Church has, since Wesley, advocated for health for all. In this current climate of anxiety about high costs, let's not forget our larger mission.
Yours in health,
Robin Swift, MPH
Health Programs Director
Clergy Health Initiative