Where Are Our Priorities?

We all have our own unique lifestyles and belief systems. It has been fashioned from our upbringing, societal norms as well as societal pressures. We are all products of constant advertising. We see things that are marketed in an attractive way and we want them. We are told from early childhood that being rich and having fancy things is much better than being poor and having nothing. We strive, we yearn and we pray for success so we can have what we want.

The definition of success may be different for everyone, but the priorities of each individual may be less unique than we think. From the moment in our childhood that we begin to have awareness, we are given “messages” by our parents, family members, television and teachers as to what constitutes a good and successful life. When we watch T.V. shows, we see a consistent message that having lots of money and material things is the norm. Our role models on T.V. exude success and money. Perhaps what we do not realize is that television survives on advertising. In order for people to pay attention to ads, they have to have wants and needs. It is not really surprising that we are bombarded by messages of wealth from T.V. shows. They want us to want to buy things so they can sell advertising time.

We are conditioned from early on to desire things that we see and this is how capitalism thrives. It needs consumers who are willing to spend lots of money on things so the economy can be strong. Conditioning is so deep and surreptitious that we are completely unaware of what is going on. We take it in sub-consciously most of the time.

However, when our parents are sitting at the dinner table talking about someone who is wealthy, they will always talk about his/her success in a very positive or jealous way. I certainly remember my own mother talking about a friend of hers who was “so lucky because she married a very wealthy man”. You will never hear someone saying how lucky their friend is to have married a poor man!

When our striving succeeds and we now have some financial freedom, our priorities will kick in. We will begin to buy what we value (what we have been conditioned to value) such as a fancy home, fancy cars, vacations, clothing, big screen T.V.’s, jewelry, furniture, artwork, boats, computers, cell phones, vacation homes, etc. These are the things that other people see that show them that we are successful and wealthy. And, of course, there are things we will spend our money on that are strictly experiential such as restaurants, shows, concerts, etc.

Living in this day and age presents us with unlimited possibilities as to what we spend our money on. Shopping malls and the internet affect our lives and our thinking on a regular basis. We see, we want. And this is where the problem lies. At a certain point in our lives, we can no longer tell the difference between our needs and our wants. We confuse the two and begin to believe that what we want is actually what we need. At this point, our priorities no longer serve us in a positive way. They simply serve to distract us from what is truly important.

Case in point – you go out to eat at a fancy restaurant. You enjoy the appetizer, main course, dessert and drinks. Everything is delicious and to your satisfaction. The bill comes for you and your partner. It costs well over $250. But you pay it because you enjoyed dinner. Most importantly, you pay it because you can afford to pay it and being seen in a fancy restaurant holds some prestige and we like the way that feels. Yet, in a day or two, the experience is forgotten as we move through the events of each new day. Now, you wake up one morning and you have a pain. You go to the doctor and he explains that you need to have a test or a treatment that is not covered by insurance and it will cost $250. What is your initial reaction? What goes on for you internally? You now realize you have to spend money on your own healthcare. Is there the same joy as if you bought something or ate out in a fancy restaurant? Will you even say yes to spending the money?

This gets back to the confusion of wants and needs. We NEED to be healthy, however we have been conditioned to NOT WANT to spend money on our own health. Health insurance companies have conditioned us to believe that if we pay them a monthly premium, we will get our healthcare services covered. That deep conditioning sub-consciously leads us to believe that we DO NOT NEED to spend money on our own health! Our priorities have become jaded by conditioning. We clearly do not need to go to a fancy restaurant. We do not need fancy homes, cars or things. What we do need are things that support our basic survival – healthy food, clean air and water, a roof over our heads for shelter and protection, good health and the love of our family and friends. Without these things, we all will suffer.

Suppose you had all the money in the world but were in poor health. How would that be for you? What would you say to God? Would you thank Him for your money AND ill-health? Of course not. Most people would gladly give up their wealth if they could get their good health back! Good health is a basic need yet we treat it as if it were something we want but can’t afford, like a fancy car. Yet, at the same time, we won’t hesitate to spend $5000 on a vacation that soon becomes a distant memory. What has happened to our priorities? How many times have I heard people say that they went to a doctor that was a “rip-off”. When I ask how the doctor ripped them off, the answer is “He/she wanted to charge me!” I will then ask them, “Did you pay for the doctor’s services?” And the answer is “Hell no. Why should I pay? I have insurance”. So, the insurance company refuses to pay for certain types of care, but the doctor is a rip off? Why aren’t they getting angry with their insurance company? These very same people have plenty of money to spend on “things” but cannot seem to afford medical care. Our society has been conditioned to devalue medical services by the health insurance companies so that they could seize control of medical care in this country. They have succeeded and are now in complete control. They set the standard of care. They decide what is medically necessary or appropriate. They either pay or don’t pay for services and it is based on a mathematical profit formula, not on sound health care. Realize this! They are not in the health care business. They are in the “collect premium dollars and try to keep them” business.

Yet, in spite of the consistent rejection of medical claims that the insurance companies refuse to pay for, the public keeps paying their premiums, month after month, year after year. This is utter insanity to me. We don’t have our priorities on straight. Our health care system is crumbling and it is for two reasons – 1) we do not want to pay doctors for keeping us healthy or getting us well and 2) we are afraid not to pay our premiums because of fear of a major health problem.

So, what is the answer? To me, it is obvious. If you wanted to go on a great vacation, you would set up a vacation fund. You would save and save and save until you had enough to go on that vacation. Well, likewise, since we all know that insurance companies are great at not paying, we need to consider the possibility of out of pocket medical costs. Our health is an essential need, so why would we not place importance on having our own medical fund? If we saved money and put it toward this end, there would be a lot less angst when we were in need of medical care. It may mean that you have to go out to eat less often. It may mean that you can’t always buy expensive clothing and fancy cars or take extravagant vacations. But will you really be any less happy? Would you really be missing so much if you re-allocated money to your basic human need to be healthy?

The time has come to re-prioritize. What is really important? Can you separate your needs from your wants? Can you start to realize that doctors can be paid for services by your insurance company only if the insurance company decides to pay. The doctor does not have any control over this. The doctor is not “ripping you off” by charging for services. He/she is trying to help you in the best way he/she sees fit. If you don’t like the system, then for heaven’s sake, stop supporting it by paying premiums to insurance companies that are actually the ones “ripping you off”!!!!

The situation is critical. Will you change your priorities after reading this? The choice is yours. YOU are in control.

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