02 January 2010

Tired of being Undeserving

This was a comment that I made on another blog, but I think it stands alone as a blogpost. And - sorry folks - it's another healthcare rant if you want to skip it.


Speaking as someone who presently can’t afford healthcare, I’m tired (there is a LOT of emotion behind that word “tired” that I can’t properly communicate) of fellow Christians telling me that I don’t deserve healthcare or that “people like me” don’t really want it.

The church has very clearly called upon us to tithe our income which does not currently pay the bills. We do tithe and would have done so anyway, but truth be told, having been told to tithe I now resent doing it. I have gone from feeling good about giving to God sacrificially to feeling that people might be wondering why we are giving so little – surely they must be making more than THAT?

What would happen to us in the event that we had a big medical crisis/bill? Well, we’d be left to accept the charity of the hospital or possibly of family. The church will maybe come up with a casserole. But, in the face of such opposition we certainly can’t be real enough with anyone at church to admit that not having healthcare is a worry. And no one would actually help us out with our real needs. I wouldn’t really expect that either, but I really MIND it in the context of being told that we would not deserve to have medical care on account of not being able to afford it at the moment.

Now that I’m finally getting a job and we’ll be able to pay our bills – although we’ll still worry about medical care and won’t really be able to afford preventative dentistry or checkups – am I supposed to: a) Say “Whew! Now I’m part of the mainstream in my church. I’ll join in the view that people in the condition I was in a few months ago don’t deserve healthcare? or b) Remember what it was like to worry? I’m pretty sure it’s going to be option (b). And we’ll still be worrying that we’ll get away with good health until we are able to earn an upper-middle class wage with all the perks.


PamBG said...

Thanks for that, Russell but it's really quite a diversion from my main point. I want to tithe and I don't believe that God requires me to do it either.

But apparently according to a number of people, my income - any income at all - makes me "deserving" of tithing, but not deserving of receiving healthcare.

Why did I "deserve" my healthcare before when I could afford it and now I don't "deserve" it? Why is healthcare considered a luxury consumer good in America and why is it considered "wrong" to want healthcare if you can't afford a $500 trip to the hospital in the ambulance or a $5000 ER visit?

Sally said...

Pam I hear you, we faced this dilema in the States and although we wanted to tithe we also took seriously our need to provide healthcare for our family...

This is a mad situation and one that is not a luxury...

Maybe your tithe could be responsibly given to healthcare for yourslves so that with peace of mind you can engage in His work?

PamBG said...

Sally, unfortunately, our tithe would not even come close to paying for our health insurance!!!!

At the moment, decent health insurance would cost us over 100% of our income. We currently have a policy with a $10,000 per annum deductible that costs us over 25% of our income.

Due to me being over 50, even though our only pre-existing health conditions are mild asthma and my husband's detached retina in July, the kind of policy that most people come to expect to be subsidized by their employer would cost us more than we are earning. I stress that neither one of us has high-blood pressure or any chronic conditions nor are we taking any kind of medication other than husband's inhaler which he refills once or twice a year.

I don't see how these kinds of costs are sustainable for the economy in general over the long term. I don't see how employers can continue to subsidize these kinds of costs over the long term.

I'm afraid I think that those middle-class people who have had subsidized health insurance don't actually have a clue about the economics. I'm afraid I think they are judgmental when they pronounce that the unemployed are undeserving and when they imply that we are deadbeats.

Unfortunately, my new job doesn't come with benefits either. Very few hourly jobs around here offer them any more. My husband has been asked to interview for a salaried position at his current employer. I'm praying that this will come with a decent package - one that might cost us as much as we are paying now but not require a 5-figure deductable.

PamBG said...

I struggled with the tithing teaching.

It was about the 3rd Sunday I attended the church. A member of The Stewardship Committee was standing at the entrance of the church with a large pile of books and he hands me a book on the subject of tithing. He tells me we're going to be studying this book for the next five weeks in our Sunday School classes. It's written by a well-known UMC author and pastor of a mega-church (US readers will probably understand). The person who hands me the book tells me that it cost the church $9.99 and they are asking for contributions to defray the cost. I put $10 in the little perspex pot.

The book had a lot of good things to say about trusting in God for your needs and in being thankful for what you have. These things I believe. These beliefs allowed me to quit my position in the middle of one of the worst recessions in my lifetime to go into the unknown and follow what I believe was my current calling to love and honor my parents.

But I have to admit, that I often wrestled and felt resentful.

There is a chapter on budgeting in the book. From memory, this chapter suggests that "healthcare" should cost a family 10% of their annual income. Now this would mean a very, very, very fine income for us and I'm wondering what planet the author is living on. The book also makes clear how, even if you are poor (which, arguably we are not, just short of cash-flow at the moment), you are called to trust in God. And I'm thinking that it's all very well for this pastor of a mega-church to say that.

It's one thing to say to yourself "Money isn't everything. I will trust in the Lord to provide for my needs". It's a heck of a lot more tricky to tell someone else they "should" do these things.