Does Charity Begin at Home?
It has been an interesting weekend here in the UK with regard to budgets and foreign aid. On the BBC Sunday morning talk shows, a radio presenter told the story of a young woman who called in with a question for David Cameron, the current prime minister. She asked, "Why is it that my local NHS can't pay for the necessary medication to treat my stage-four cancer, but the government can send £12 billion overseas in foreign aid?"
The announcer reported that Mr. Cameron was left speechless and could not actually provide an answer for the young woman. Discussion then ensued about why the NHS was being restructured when that £12 billion could go a long way to funding health and social issues here at home. One of the conservative commentators stated that although providing aid was noble, "Charity begins at home!"
My first thought was, "Wow! Back in the US, I wonder if this woman would get any care at all? What if she was one of the 44 million without insurance?"
Now before any readers start responding that this is an example of the drawbacks to socialized healthcare, I urge you to look at the formularies for your own health plans. I guarantee you will find that your plans won't pay for many medications as well!
So I did a little digging about what the US spends on foreign aid. According to the US Census Bureau, the US spent $45 billion on foreign aid last year. Meanwhile, about half of all foreclosures in the US are due to medical bills.1 That money could go a long way to ensuring all Americans have access to care and are better able to keep their homes.
What do you think? If you own your own practice, from a business point of view, do you think that money should stay in the country? As a consumer, how do you feel about that money ensuring the most vulnerable people in the world have some level of food and clean water to drink? From a security point of view, if this investment helps stem the influx of foreign-bred ailments, is it money wisely spent?
1. Robertson, C.T., Egelhof, R., & Hoke, M. "Get Sick, Get Out: The Medical Causes of Home Foreclosures." Health Matrix 18 (2008): 65-105. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christopher_robertson/2