Most of my Monday was spent with Bill at Piedmont Cancer Center while he received his sixth round of chemotherapy. We are very blessed that he has good health insurance and that the therapy, combined with prayers of family and friends, has been very effective. So far, we have received only the bill for round one, and we were stunned that just one of the medications he receives costs $5,200. Our out-of-pocket expenses for that round were around $1,600. Fortunately, we can pay for that, but it did make me wonder about those who cannot and those who do not have health insurance as good as ours. What do they do?
Every time I sit with Bill, I am stunned by how many people are touched by cancer. Just yesterday yet one more dear friend of many decades sent me a Facebook message to say that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and will have a mastectomy next month. There are at least five members of our small church who have cancer. What is this about? Is it the pollution in our air? The lead in our water? The pesticides on our vegetables? The hormones in our meat? My fear is that the answer is, “Yes.”
All of those things are done, of course, because of greed. We are producing more, and we are doing it faster and cheaper. Oh, you can buy organic, locally-sourced food (and you should), but only if you are affluent. The poor cannot afford to feed their families from the healthy section of the supermarket, let alone go to specialty stores or farmers markets.
This is just one more example of how we have crafted an economic system that maximizes the level of poison the children of the poor are exposed to and then ensures that they get the worst health insurance with the maximum out-of-pocket expenses, thus maximizing the profits of the health insurance and healthcare industries.
I have no trouble envisioning Jesus longing to overturn the tables of these moneychangers who exploit the suffering poor, and the walnut desks of the legislators they have bought and paid for in state capitals and in Washington, DC. Jesus is not here to do that, however, so I think he is waiting on us.
Rev. Michael Piazza