Whilst not a mainstream treatment type for most, spiritual care certainly plays an essential role in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of many people in our communities. Some ministers, missionaries, and pastors go so far as to take out a health insurance policy. One recent example of the power of spiritual care highlights the benefits of this area of medicine, and forms the basis for a group of Christian Scientists and their push to have such care covered by medical insurers.
The example focuses on a young man in his 20s, who suffered horrific burns to a majority of his skin as a result of a grease fire in his home. The victim himself happened to be a Christian Scientist and therefore turned to spiritual care when traditional Western medicine was found to be making no further progress on his burns.
Sue Wood, a practitioner at the Wide Horizon Center – a spiritual care center servicing 7 states – says that she clearly remembers the case and sees it as an example of the true potential that this area of medicine has.
“He was in tough shape” she said, as we asked her about the male’s condition when admitted to the center. “We put him in the shower, removed his old bandages, and rinsed away all of the medication previously applied.” She then stated that after applying fresh bandages with no conventional medicine underneath, the center adopted a traditional spiritual focus.
Two weeks later, when Wood came back to inspect the male, there were “absolutely no noticeable scars to be seen.” Wood states that she, and the other practitioners at the clinic, were truly amazed by the healing that took place. Wood states that “the more clearly we see God’s love, the greater the alleviation of pain and suffering.” It would appear that Wood is not alone in thinking this.
Calls for Inclusion of Spiritual Care in Health Insurance
Since the case went public, many Christian Scientists have rejoiced at the man’s recovery, and have even gone as far as to say that given the facts of the case – health insurance companies should consider adding this type of treatment to their coverage list.
Gary Jones, the federal manager of the Christian Science Committee on Publication, commented following the release of the details of the case. He stated that if the government is going to push through health care reform as discussed since the Obama Administration took power, there was no reason why they shouldn’t allow spiritual care to be a coverage option for the many hundreds of thousands of Americans who might want it.
“If the government is going to make health insurance cover compulsory, they should respond to the actual treatment types that Americans want,” he said.
On closer inspection, health insurance companies probably wouldn’t be too worse off by allowing spiritual care coverage anyway. The Wide Horizon Center charges between $150 and $420 per day. The lesser value is for a single room with a single hour of nursing care, whereas the latter is for the same room with six hours of care. Comparatively, the pricing is competitive given the current health care market. Single rooms at mainstream medical centers (which are currently covered by health insurance policies) can cost up to $2,000 per day.
Jones, reflecting on the value that spiritual care could offer to the community, sums the situation up by saying “what we want is an option for health insurance cover for spiritual care – nothing more, nothing less.”