Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Real US Healthcare Issue: Compassion Deficiency

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Real US Healthcare Issue: Compassion Deficiency

Article excerpt

During the height of the banking and Wall Street meltdowns, Americans seemed to love clucking about corporate greed. As far as most of us were concerned, the moral debacle was purely the fault of Wall Street, not Main Street.

Yet you don't need a graduate degree to see that the character crisis is not restricted to those summering on Nantucket.

The healthcare debate has revealed that Americans suffer from a compassion deficiency. Many of us would prefer that our fellow citizens go without medical care rather than make even the slightest of sacrifices.

Over the summer, I have heard many groans along the lines of, "I don't want to pay for someone else's visits to the doctor." When pressed, some will retreat to concerns about the degradation of care. But there are plenty who will stick with, "I just don't feel as though I should have to foot someone else's medical bills."

While President Obama insists that changes in our medical system will not require middle-class tax hikes, it is plain that many fear reform will cost them. Apparently, there are a lot of folks who would choose to have young mothers with cancer go without chemotherapy, instead of giving up a bit of that disposable income that is our badge of freedom and individualism.

Those of us who abide below the money mountaintop are acquainted with hardworking people who can't afford some critical medical treatment. Though we are inured to them, I could easily reel off 10 horror stories, including a couple quite close to home.

I reside in a small town and every week there is some kind of raffle or spaghetti dinner to scrounge together the funds to meet the medical expenses of a child with leukemia or a teenager with a brain tumor. We're trying to pay for brain surgery with bake sales!

Back in the late 1980s, I lived in Denmark, where there is superb universal coverage. …

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