Like Mr. T., I have always been proud and happy to live in America, and none of my travels have ever taken me to a place I considered to be better than my own home.
It is true that the standard of living Americans enjoy is better than almost any other place on earth.
As a whole, I find Americans to be decent, caring, and helpful people. They are my people, after all.
I love the amber waves of grain and the purple mountains majesty, too. And Grand Lake and the Rocky Mountains are surely some of the most beautiful places on earth.
I do admit that in recent years I have at times been embarrassed by certain things our president has said and done in the world arena. It upsets me to think that people on other parts of the globe might consider Americans stupid or self-centered because I know they are neither.
All that aside, I would like for America to continue to be prosperous and free. I would like for our children to grow up in a world where they can live well and be themselves without fear.
But, I do want to say that there is a trend in America that I find rather disturbing.
I began thinking about it the other day when I was on hold listening to a recorded voice tell me how great my health insurance company is. I guess they thought it would confuse me into complacence if they bombarded me with untrue statements about their customer service before I spoke to an actual person who didn’t actually help me.
Anyway, as I hung up the phone and contemplated the mountain of paperwork I was going to have to fill out just so they would cover something they were supposed to cover in the first place, I thought, “Hmmm. Isn’t it odd that I am paying them, and yet I am the one who has to jump through all the hoops?”
Let’s see . . . they get my money, and I have to do what they say. They are making a huge profit – more money that I will probably ever see in my lifetime - and yet they behave as though they are doing me a great favor, even when they are not helping me – and I am supposed to smile and say, “Thanks!”
How does that work, exactly?
It seems to me that a lot of people in this country (and probably all over the world) have mistaken profit for a moral prerogative. Anything goes, as long as it is profitable, and the more profitable someone is, the more leave they have to stomp all over everyone else.
The health care system in this nation is the most glaring example of this. Illness is measured by its financial cost. Never mind the physical discomfort, the loss of life, or the emotional anguish it causes for those who suffer and their families, our medical care industry (and industry is the key word) looks at illness only as something that effects the bottom line.
I have a cousin who was in a tragic car accident a little less than a year ago. He suffered a massive brain injury and has been recovering very slowly ever since. Even though he must be fed through a tube and turned every few hours and even though he needs physical and speech therapy, the insurance company deemed that he was ready to go home.
The decision to send a comatose boy home to a place that was ill-equipped to handle his care was not made by his doctor. It was not even made according to his doctor’s recommendation. It was made by someone on a phone in a cubicle in a place like Terra Haute, Indiana, who has no knowledge of my cousin other than the fact that he is eating into the insurance company’s profits.
Bottom line? My cousin, though he was showing progress, was taking too long to heal. And heaven forbid that the insurance company his family had been paying faithfully every month for some 20 years should not make their millions of dollars worth of profit - that would be crazy!
Clearly, the sane thing to do was to cut off his hospital care and send him home. Far be it from my cousin to deny those corporate fat cats their ermine-lined pen holders and gold-plated coffee cups just so he can regain control of his bodily functions.
Yes, this is a personal issue for me. But I hear similar stories all the time, and I am offended by medical insurance companies who pretend to have my best interest at heart when all they really want is to take my money and find ways not to cover me when I need their help.
I like to make a profit just as well as the next person, and I would never deny prosperity to anyone. But I have never thought that greed was admirable. There is such a thing as having too much profit and too little humanity.
And there are some things in this world that absolutely should not be based on profit. Health care is one of those things.
Our great country has a lot to be proud of, but I think one of the things we really need as a nation is health care reform. Regardless of the bottom line, Americans in every part of our society should have the right to receive the very best medical care our country has to offer.