I’ve been listening to political promises long enough to know better. Still, this time of year tends to stir up in me a particular angst over one such promise in particular.
This time of year being “health insurance open enrollment period.”
And the promise in question: “If you like your plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctors, you can keep ‘em.” The fact is, ever since Congress “fixed” healthcare, we’ve had to enroll in a different (read: ‘much more expensive, with much less coverage’) plan almost every year.
In 2017, things have come to a particularly ugly juncture.
The plan provider (read: ‘pirate’) we’ve used for years has decided not to offer coverage of any kind in this area. While a handful of plans from other insurers are available—lousy, expensive plans—none of them include our doctors or preferred healthcare systems.
In short, we have become pariahs.
Outsiders, unwanted by the system.
And I have to tell you, it’s a rather uncomfortable feeling.
Even the professional insurance broker we’ve enlisted for expert advice has more or less thrown up his hands. “Wow. That is tough.” he said to us in his most recent email.
Tough indeed. You come out feeling a lot like the five hapless virgins described in Sunday’s gospel passage – the ones who asked their friends for a little oil, to keep their lamps burning brightly.
But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
The story doesn’t turn out well, as you may recall. The five foolish virgins wind up on the outside of the wedding feast…the doors locked and barred against them.
If there’s a blessing in all of this, it’s certainly difficult to discern.
I do notice, however, how much this “healthcare outsider” status highlights my own deep-seated desire for control. I want to know that I have options. I want assurance that there’s a way to stop (or slow) the hemorrhaging inflicted by insurance premiums each November. I want solutions.
Instead, perhaps, I am being invited to reflect a bit more deeply on this very real pain in my life.
With a little effort, I can begin to see it as an opportunity for solidarity with the many millions around the world who have far less economic security than I do, far less access to medical care.
It’s a reminder, too, to dust off…savor…and even be changed by a favorite prayer – Teilhard’s “Patient Trust”.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.
And so it is with us.
Our ideas mature gradually – we should let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though we could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on our own good will)
will make of them tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within us will be.
So let us give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading us,
and ask that we can accept the anxiety of feeling ourselves in suspense and incomplete.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.
“In God We Trust.” I’m working on it…I really am.
And it helps to have some comic relief at times, courtesy of political leaders who often prove themselves not-so-trustworthy.