Another Thought on Missionary Health

Recently I posted some concerns about health care for missionaries and would still welcome your comments and experiences on the matter (please add them to the original post – I may send the link to a few key people in Salt Lake that may be interested in your perspectives to help them improve the system). But I’d like to emphasis the wise comments from one of my favorite commenters, Bookslinger:

In the final analysis 18-year olds are legal adults and responsible for themselves.

If a missionary is really sick, and the MP or APs don’t believe him, he’s still sick. Someone else’s mistaken belief doesn’t change facts.

In the United States at least, emergency care can’t legally be denied someone who shows up at a hospital’s emergency room.

My father was a doctor, and I remember him dismissing many legitimate problems I had when I was little. I had to complain about a broken finger for 2 weeks before he finally had it X-rayed to shut me up, and it turned out it did have a hairline fracture.

It really hurts when people in authority over you don’t believe you or don’t take you seriously. But when it comes to a matter of your health and safety, you have to do what you have to do.

A mission president only has ecclesiastical authority over a missionary. It’s not like missionaries are slaves or indentured servants.

There is ALWAYS the option to disobey an “order.” And, in the case of an unrighteous order that is preventing a missionary from getting needed medical care, then it is almost a DUTY to disobey it, almost like in the military.

I can’t think of any occasion when church leaders said that members or missionaries must obey church authorities to the point of ignoring injuries or illness.

The MP or APs can be straightened out later when all the facts are in, but the foremost duty of missionaries is to stay healthy. Sick missionaries can’t preach the gospel.

Good advice, I’d say. Missionaries, take care of yourselves and make sure your families know when there is a serious problem.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on “Another Thought on Missionary Health

  1. thanks for posting Bookslinger’s thoughts, Jeff. I missed them in the original post you did. Very wise. It saddens me, this obeisance to authority that denies the validity of whatever we’re experiencing. And makes me feel so guilty for the times I’ve dismissed my kids.

  2. Though some of this can be attributed to abeisance to authority, there’s the more practical concern that without approval (and the MP’s wife is often the one who can make or break this) the insurance won’t pay. Some missionaries may have the resources to cover their medical bills, but I doubt most do. That was why I could not get the medical care I needed.

  3. here’s the more practical concern that without approval (and the MP’s wife is often the one who can make or break this) the insurance won’t pay.

    That may be the understanding of young and inexperienced missionaries, but it’s an incorrect understanding.

    I used to work for an insurance company. The question of whether or not insurance pays, is determined by whether the patient is really sick/injured or not. If the attending physician says “Yes, this bone is broken”, or “Yes, this is pneumonia,” then insurance has to pay, regardless of what the MP or MP’s wife says.

    So in effect, the MP and his wife, at least in the states, may state that insurance/church won’t pay for the clinic/office visit, but ONLY if a doctor finds nothing wrong.

    If I found out a missionary in my ward was sick or injured and the MP or his wife wouldn’t let him see a doc, I’d do what Jeff did, and drive him to a hospital or clinic myself. And if it turned out he really was sick/injured, I’d ream that MP a new one and make sure his higher ups in the system knew about it.

  4. In my experience the MP and his wife are more than interested in making sure that their missionaries are in good health. In our mission all that was required was to call the office and let the MP know that they needed to go to the doctor. Missionary Medical Insurance paid for the visit and if the family had insurance for the missionary a request for reimbursement was sent to the family and then forwarded on to the appropriate insurance company.

    In no case was medical treatment not given although at times no reimbursement was made. In the case of the Japanese missionaries they are covered under their national inusrance so we didn’t have to worry about them as we were in Japan.

    When there was an injury no approval was given or needed. The missionary was often taken to the hospital by a member and treatment was started immediately. Another call was given to the MP and usually, regardless of the time of the day or night, the MP and I or his wife were on the way to the hospital. Reimbursement was never considered. No treatment or diagnostics expenses were spared. The MP had no desire to have someone tell him that if one his missionaries had received thus or so things would have been different for the missionary health.

    Because of the great love for the MP and the and the missionary no expense was spared.

    Been there done that.

  5. This is a bit off track, but I’m looking for a primary health coverage policy to cover my soon to be overseas missionary son. I’d like to avoid the potential problem of his returning to the states with a pre-existing condition that the church insurance only covers for 90 days. Has anyone actually found such a policy? Something that could be converted to stateside coverage and remain his primary health coverage when he returns to studenthood?

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