The Common Good

What My Broken Collar Bone Taught Me About Our Broken Health-Care System

I was in a car wreck in 2002. After a drunk driver hit the car in which I was a passenger, I found myself with fractured ribs and a broken right clavicle. I had two surgeries (both unsuccessful) to heal my collar bone, and I had trouble sleeping for months afterwards. Even today I cannot sleep on my right side or lift very heavy objects, and I fight anxiety if another car comes anywhere near me while I am making a left turn.

I had to pay $2,500 out of pocket for the ambulance ride, emergency room, surgeries, and physical therapy visits. Yet I am fortunate that I was covered by my family's health insurance. In the end, the medical bills totaled over $25,000.

I shudder to remember the years of bureaucratic red tape my family and I endured because of this wreck. We made multiple calls and sent many letters to correct faulty billing procedures and to ensure that the insurance company would actually pay for the care I needed.

I am thankful that I am alive and not bankrupt because of a chance collision, yet God has created us for more than being merely "alive and not bankrupt." The Lord has created us for freedom to live in loving community that encourages supportive relationships. The kingdom of God promises blessings so much deeper than what our current health-care system leaves us: 46 million people without insurance, growing numbers of bankruptcies due to rising medical costs, and 18,000 unnecessary deaths each year.

As Congress tackles the challenge of health-care reform in the United States, Christians have the opportunity to hold our legislators accountable to those whose voices have been neglected for so long. By urging quality health care that is accessible and affordable for all, the church affirms that God desires us healed and whole.

My accident taught me that our current system encourages medical providers to see patients as commodities, and insurance companies to withhold or delay coverage in order to maximize their profits. I have hope that we can seek a better way so that all of those involved in the health-care system are freed to seek the common good. That is why I am working with Sojourners and others in the faith community to advocate for more transparent and inclusive health-care reform.

Join our efforts by signing our Health-Care Creed, and a copy will be sent to your member of Congress, letting them know you want legislation that reflects God's concern for the health of everyone.

Melanie Weldon-Soiset is a Beatitudes Society fellow at Sojourners.

To learn more about health-care reform, click here to visit Sojourners' Health-Care Resources Web page.

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