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This is not a news flash, but it needs repeating: The health-care system in America is leaving out tens of millions of people, whose health and financial solvency are at grave risk. Take three examples from the news media:

• Waitress Katie Salas has worked 20 different jobs, mostly as a waitress, in the last eight years, and none of her nearly two dozen employers provided health insurance. When she was hurt in a bicycle accident, Salas went to the emergency room for care. She was told to go home and ice her bruises—and then was billed for $2,000.

• A working mom of three, Deborah Shank was left permanently brain-damaged and confined to a wheelchair after a collision with a semitrailer. After legal expenses, the court awarded her $417,000 to provide for her ongoing medical needs. But the health plan for Wal-Mart, where she worked, sued successfully for the award as reimbursement for medical expenses it had already shelled out. The fine print in her health plan made that perfectly legal.

• An oil company salesman, Jim Dawson, deathly ill with a staph infection, spent five months in intensive care. After he returned home, his hospital billed him for $1.2 million. He referred it to his insurer, who just told him they had already paid $1.5 million, Dawson's lifetime cap, and would pay no more. (These lifetime caps have remained unchanged for 30 years.)

It's no wonder all the presidential candidates say they have a national health-care plan.

Four Principles

This problem can no longer be a back-burner issue for evangelicals. All through our history, Christians have been leaders in caring for the sick—in founding hospitals, clinics, and other health services. It is time to spend our energies helping create a better ...

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The Health Care Crunch
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In the Magazine

February 2008

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