Take a deep breath in … Feel the full presence of the Light within you. It is complete. You are complete.
Universal Light Workers
The trick is to find peace with the process of life rather than with specific results. Listen to your intuition and relax a little more. Practice allowing.” – Kathy Freston
I was off-site today, meaning that I did not go into the office. Rather, I attended a committee meeting, of which I am a member, and in which we select the health insurance offerings that will be presented to the 30 independent schools that participate in the association sponsored health and benefits consortium. That makes it sound rather complicated, but honestly it is nowhere near as complicated as the entire health insurance quagmire that is our nation’s heritage. In short, it is extraordinarily complicated stuff and not for anything (after all, I am a bleeding heart liberal), but the ACA, affectionately known as Obama-care, has made a complicated system infinitely more complicated.
The committee itself consists of about a dozen or so business officers and HR professionals representing a dozen or so of the forty schools that participate in the program. Our goal is to do the best we can to control annual rate increases on health insurance for our member schools while not giving away the store. Not that there is 100% congruence in that purpose among the committee members. Independent schools are independent for a reason, we all tend to have different outlooks and different concerns. Some schools are very focused on the business aspect of the school and cost, and cost containment, is everything. Other schools try to achieve a balance between controlling costs both for the school and for their employees, and yet others simply want to offer the best insurance benefit they can to their employees, cost be damned.
Today’s meeting was five hours long. Finance and business gurus that we are, even our heads start spinning after a couple of hours. Lots of numbers and financial scenarios and discussions about using insurance benefit adjustments to modify employee and institution behavior in an effort to instill more “consumerism” into the process. And if the health care industry were strictly a free market enterprise then I might almost accept the trade-off. Almost. . .
We sat there listening about “high cost” claimants. . . you know, those medical issues like cancer and organ transplants that can easily go into hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars of claims and oh boy… if we could only nudge them into making different health care choices then maybe our rate increase this year would be 10% instead of 11%. Numbers and more numbers and attempts to instill policies and benefit modifications which I affectionately call “shifting the cost to the employee” to inspire “behavior modification”. Hell, if we shift enough of the cost enough to the employee then maybe some of these “high cost claimants” will shift their behavior sufficiently so as to decide to forego treatment altogether and simply die and get off our plans sooner rather than later. Not that we break it down to that level – no, we simply stay focused on the numbers. That’s just the thought running in the background in my own head.
After four hours I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to sit on my hands and be a good committee member and think of the best financial interests of the participating schools but dammit – these aren’t numbers we’re talking about here. These are people. People like you and people like me. So when you nudge a prescription benefit so that instead of someone having to pay $50 for a ‘script’ that might have a “full cost” of $25,000 so that now they have to pay $5,000 (that’s on a 20% co-pay) um, what might the result be? Oh, well, maybe you shaved a half of one percent off the rate increase to the schools, but what about that one person who needs that prescription to live and now you’ve adjusted their cost from $50 to $5,000 for one fill in the name of “behavior modification”? And so now they can no longer afford that prescription and, well, “so sorry”, little Johnny has to die for the sake of the bottom line of 40 schools. Oh, and yes, there are prescriptions that cost $25,000, per fill, and more in some instances. And yes, I did say this in the meeting. Someone has to remind the rest of the committee that there are honest-to-god people behind all of these numbers.
I do a lot of mental squirming in these meetings. It’s not like there is any one person, or group, that you can blame. I’m beginning to think that the insurers are among the less culpable. Right now the bogey man, front and center, are the large pharmaceutical companies. It is an industry that screams for federal regulation. But even that is only a part of it. The whole system is corrupt, overly complicated, unfair, and all-but-broken. It is yet another example of the “Wild West” mentality in that, lacking regulation, everyone is out there grabbing as much as they can for themselves and while there is probably a lot of individual concern on the part of healthcare providers for the health and well-being of individuals, it is simply not organizational or social policy.
Now our nation’s Declaration of Independence includes the following statement –
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .
So then, when do we, as a society, implement a social policy that includes the right to fair and equitable access to health care for all? And if it has to be regulated by our government to make it so, then that is what we should do. I think it is really that simple. The purpose of government is to provide certain “essentials” that provide for the common good. In that spirit I would certainly include other fundamentals here as well. . . housing, food and health – all fundamentals of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Ensure the “survivability” of people and let them figure it out from there. I swear, if we, as a society, were more concerned about the health and welfare of all people, and less concerned about profit and un-ending growth, we would live in an entirely different world. The world we live in today, in this American society, is simply not sustainable and unless we change it we are most certainly going to find that out one day.
So that was my day today.
“All we ever have is this very moment, so the only thing we can do for sure is be present. The more present you are, the richer your experience will be.” – Kathy Freston
Ok then. . . while in the midst of this five hour meeting today, I received a message from my dear friend and her husband that their beloved dog had been diagnosed with cancer of the heart and was suffering badly and so they had made the very, very difficult decision to have the Vet come over this afternoon and end her suffering. I honestly had all I could do to not cry in the midst of today’s committee meeting. How very, very sad. I know how much they loved Diva and how hard that decision must have been for them.
When I got home tonight I knew I needed to do something to help them, as small an act as it might be. I felt like the best thing I could do would be to send them some distance Reiki for gentleness and healing and love. As I prepared my meditation room and drew my Reiki symbols, the tears that I had held back earlier, in the meeting, flowed freely. I know that Laureen will be there waiting for Diva and will see her in a different light than how she presented on Earth. I set up a gentle meditation using my meditation teacher’s CD (she is such a gentle spirit) and smudged my meditation room and myself before sitting down and proceeding to meditate and connect with Reiki and with Laureen. It was a good ceremony.
And now, I am sad, but I understand that this is the way of life. As Kathy Freston says in her book, “The nature of life is that things are always changing. Nothing stays the same for long.”
And that is the ultimate truth of it. If we go back a scant 3,000 years – none of the primary Gods that we take for granted today even existed. Buddha didn’t show up until about 2,500 years ago, Jesus 2,000 years ago, and Mohammed about 1,500 years ago. Rough timelines, but meant to bring some perspective. So 3,000 years ago the dominant gods were Egyptian and Greek, and probably the Roman Gods just starting to take off as Rome began to emerge roughly around 800 BC, or about 2,800 years ago. Of course there were a plethora of other Gods too, but the fact is, that the Gods we talk about today, and hold so sacred, and quite willingly die for with alarming regularity, didn’t even exist 3,000 years ago. Being a curious sort, I tend to wonder who our Gods will be in another 3,000 or 4,000 years from now and I’m going to hazard a guess that it won’t be the ones we hold in such high regard today.
All I am saying here is that everything changes, over time. Even our Gods change. Civilizations rise up, fall back, and disappear into the sands of history. Perhaps we need the drama of it all in order to stay engaged and interested. If nothing ever changed, and no one ever died, I suspect it would be an extraordinarily boring and stagnant existence. There are times when I yearn for an oasis of stillness and a sense of permanence wherein nothing ever changes. But sooner or later, when I do achieve that state, it begins to feel stifling and I seek to welcome change back into my life.
It is at those times that. . . “the soul whispers, ‘Wake up! Look at what you are doing and change your ways.’ “