Issue 29: Health Care

In speaking of health care, one might point to the wonders of modern medicine and the many lives saved through the compassionate application of medical and technological advances, yet this phrase also conjures fear, ire, and confusion. It brings to mind endless battles with insurance companies or hospitals, bankruptcy, malpractice, “death panels,” and racial and economic disparities in health outcomes. People die every day from a lack of access to health care in the world’s richest country, and we hear whispers of staggering profits for players in the medical-industrial complex—Big Pharma, insurance, and medical device makers. Vast inequalities give rise to black markets for organs and newly emerging health-care destinations. And we are in something like the fiftieth permutation of the closed-door attempts by legislators to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. As these high-stakes failures stack up, it appears that the executive branch’s new tactic is to destroy the current system by starving it of funds and support. The only constants seem to be insecurity and dialogical stalemate.

From an abstract perspective, the health-care debate represents an irresolvable ideological fight between those who champion personal responsibility and those champion government responsibility. But at its core, this is a discussion of care: What does it mean to care for our bodies? How does a society care for the sick and those in need, and what does it mean to offer access to reasonable care? How does one die well? And how does our theological heritage help us frame and wrestle with these questions?

In this issue of The Other Journal, we take up these questions. The essays, creative writing pieces, artwork, and reviews of this issue will engage this complex and timely conversation with the hope of helping us as people of faith and people of God to think and act in a manner that aims toward justice and the well-being of all.

— TOJ editors with special thanks to M. Therese Lysaught