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We are very focused on pinpointing the tiniest flaws in our physical selves, and the fate they may portend. What if we spent half as much energy searching for the signs in our souls and on our planet?

I usually complain about healthcare, so let me report a positive experience with the system. It’s rather an unlikely one, considering it inv0lves a New Year’s Eve visit to the ER at a hospital in West Philadephia with a crying toddler. But there you have it.

We were staying with my aunt, who lives near Broad Street in South Philly. Around 6:30pm, I was swinging our younger son, Jack (19 mos. old), by his arms when I heard a pop, kind of like the crack your knuckles make but with more bass. I put him down and he started to cry. I picked him up and eventually figured out his left arm was the source of his pain. Any poke or movement made him cry more. He was just letting it hang. I feared I had dislocated his shoulder.

So off we went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, which is near Franklin Field. I pulled up to the ER and dropped off Jack and my wife. By the time I parked the car and made it back — I took no more than 10 minutes — they were already in triage.

The nurse finished taking his blood pressure — and making him cry more by sealing him in one of those hospital ID wristbands — and told us to wait. Which we did for about 5 minutes. At which point, a nurse came out to bring us back to an exam room.

The docs came and then within 30 minutes, Jack’s arm was back to normal. A simple snap back into place was all it took. Within five seconds he was using his arm as if nothing at all had happened. Turns out he had nursemaid’s elbow, a fairly common thing in toddlers.

We were back at my Aunt’s house within 90 minutes of leaving. Let’s hope the bill is as pleasant as the visit. The doctors said there’s usually a several-hours wait in the ER. So, if you must take your child to a hospital, do it on New Year’s Eve.

Give John McCain credit for a healthcare plan that goes beyond the traditional conservative mantra of “tort reform.” It’s actually a decent plan if you agree a free market is a good prescription for our healthcare woes. I for one would love a tax credit for buying my own health insurance, which I have to do because I’m self-employed. Too bad the market fails in reality.

It’s fun to dream of consumer power over healthcare decisions. But it’s ultimately a fantasy. I know this firsthand. My second son — who’s looked perfectly healthy on the outside during his 11 months so far — has a suspicious heartbeat that requires occasional and expensive tests to make sure it’s still not a problem.

We have a health-savings account, so we pay most of this stuff out-of-pocket. We could decide to forgo these tests, considering there appears to be little wrong with our son and he’s otherwise perfectly healthy. But, the doctors tell us there’s an outside chance of something bad cropping up. Do we really have a choice in spending the money? I guess. I do often suspect the doctors are being overly cautious and the tests may not really be necessary.

I could get a second opinion — for another couple hundred dollars. Or I could decide I’d rather spend all the money on iTunes and Amazon. What if I spurned the tests simply because I didn’t have the extra couple hundred dollars to spare? What’s good for the bank account may not always be good for the heart.

I know money should play a role somewhere in the healthcare equation, and something has to happen to rein in spending. But I can’t imagine complicating already-excruciating decisions for parents by forcing them to weigh family finances against a child’s health. Maybe the advocates of free-market healthcare think that’s a good thing, and they may even have a rational argument to support it. But the argument needs to be at or near the center of debate.

That’s the unspoken straight talk about consumer-driven healthcare.