A Christian Response to Forced Health Insurance

Legislators at the federal and state levels nationally are hearing it bigtime from their constituents about both the need for increased access to health care in America, and the approach taken by President Obama and most congressional Democrats. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) is just one such lawmaker finding out how hot this issue is getting. A clip from a recent town hall meeting that Cardin hosted is here.

There is truth on both sides of this particular aspect of the health care debate. If individuals aren't insured, then aside from the potential dangers for themselves and their families, the costs for everyone else will go up. The uninsured contribute to the overall cost of insurance premiums for those who can afford coverage.

But is this really the main source of the skyrocketing cost of health care over the past several years? The more likely culprit would seem to be a wild third-party payer system, whereby hospitals and doctors, until lately, have been able to charge to insurance companies whatever costs they like. Like the auto body shop that will give your car the deluxe treatment once they know you won't be paying for most of it, these huge modern medical complexes have been built on extravagant insurance payments.

If well-intended legislators in both major parties want to find ways to make the third-party payer system more responsible, and devise at least a basic insurance coverage for the lower middle class and the impoverished, then that seems more reasonable than taking a good, but flawed, system away from everyone else who likes what they have. While it may sound Christian for government-oriented activists to want to distribute the existing health care goods around, it really is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Christianity never advocates doing wrong to one person to help someone else. As a result, those who truly wish to help as many Americans as possible to obtain decent health care coverage should go to the root of the problem -- poor health habits, exorbitant and unnecessary costs for services, and enormous unemployment -- to allow people to purchase their own, more reasonably priced health insurance.

Our health care delivery system wasn't always as bad as it is now. If at all possible, we should chart a path that helps us to return to saner costs from a system that has bankrupted many, including the government. The idea that our federal and state governments have the resources to give quality health care to all right now is self-deceiving if the current budget numbers are true.


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Lee, certainly coercion is a big issue in the healthcare debate, as it is in all aspects of life in any community. No one wants to be coerced - not even into doing things he/she might be willing to do voluntarily. Yet we accept a substantial amount of coercion, from noise ordinances to taxes. The current healthcare struggle is just another increment of coercion, albeit a large one. Our society has already become so socialized that there is hardly any reason or will to investigate how we got here, whether we ought to go back to some other arrangement, or how we would get there if we thought we wanted to. Is there really anybody out there in the blogosphere who really wants to be left utterly alone to fend for themselves against all perils? Are those people also willing to step over the rotting corpses of the uninsured who will be dying in the streets of that brave new world? Practical realities compel me to do more about “forced health insurance” than my Christian understanding would require of me. The best we can do is try to be more diligent about managing the monstrous “social contract” we’ve made – in every arena of our community life, such as national defense, public safety, public education, “welfare”, and now in particular, health care.
Much of it is emotional. To make a literary reference there is a wee bit of suspicion that it is like being invited to live in Cowslip's Warren rather then Watership Down, simply because there are plenty of carrots, The Thousand stay away and no need to take orders from Hazel-rah. If the warren is snared there's no point in worrying. I'm not saying that's how it is, but that is how it looks to some.
David, would you say that the issue is primarily whether payment for the medical care of others is voluntary or involuntary? I.e., it's one thing to charitably contribute to someone else's welfare, and almost the same to commit to each others' welfare via an insurance pool, but when we are forced to care for someone else - taxed into it - it actually removes the emotional bond between giver and recipient, especially when bureaucracy makes the decisions via rules instead of via heart? And that the result of this is frustration over being forced to pay for those who do not care for themselves - but expect you to "care" for, and about, them? It's hard to see the imago Dei via statistics. Note that at one time many hospitals were charitable institutions, and the medical profession was seen instead as a calling.
I think we need to clarify something: the people of the US are not being forced to accept health care; they are being forced to pay for medical care. Those who claim the solution to managing medical costs is to take better care of ones self may, sooner or later, advocate that the unwise/unhealthy among us be forced to accept (practice) care of our own health, but I don’t really see anyone being forced to have a kidney transplant or take chemotherapy. I see people being forced to pay for someone else’s kidney transplant. The question that all citizens, including, but obviously not limited to Christians, need to answer is “why should I pay for it?” Going back to fundamentals, I was taken aback at first by LQ’s question “who says all lives are of equal value?” , but it is a very good question. I’m not sure Christians or secular people know where their ideas about that come from. Our Judeo-Christian perspective is that all lives are intrinsically valuable (and, therefore, “equal”) because all are made in the image of God. But does that understanding apply to the body, the mere and obviously disposable shell of the soul? Isn’t it the soul that is made in the image of God? If so, then why would God or Man consider the shells intrinsically valuable? // I’m sure I do not understand how a person who does not believe in God supports the idea that all lives are equal. (In fact, many do not believe they are equal.) But for those who do not believe in God, yet believe in equality, perhaps the process works like this: One of the main advantages of not believing in God is that Man is free to have nothing greater than himself. Applied at the level of individuals, the concept of “nothing greater” can be construed, at best, to be “equal”. That is, for all of us to have the satisfaction of having nothing greater than us, we must all settle for equality! The value of equality in a secular world is not that it raises others up to my level; it is that no one can rise above ME.
David, I'm delighted that Gina and her cohort have created a place where we as a community - including those who completely disagree with each other - can make jokes, have fun, have deep discussions, and generally interact in a mutually beneficial way. It's remarkable, considering that most blogs have shouting matches in the comments. // To the topic, I think you've hit the nail on the head: who says all lives are of equal value, and why do they say that? And is it one thing if I demand an equality of outcome, versus if you attempt to create it for me irrespective of my wishes? (And I, too, want to hold off on the Good Samaritan discussion, but I've often wondered if the victim in that story would have yelled "Get your hands off me, you filthy Samaritan!" if he had been conscious.) Does life really have all that much intrinsic value? Both Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey would say it does, but perhaps things have changed since those times. Maybe, contra the Pro-Life position, life ceases to be sacred after we're born. If so, perhaps it should be every man and woman for themselves.
LQ, clever as your puns may be (as found on other topics), I would much rather engage on fundamental questions about healthcare. (In truth, I am not equal to you or Rolley in the cleverness department. Perhaps our nation needs a pun czar to ensure that the punning field is leveled, so I can feel better about myself in that regard!) I mention that only to highlight what I perceive as one of the two issues that underlie the healthcare discussion: the perceived moral imperative for equality. The other is fear of death. My own sense of what ought to be done about healthcare is very much informed by my Christian understanding of both of those items. The short version is that I do not believe I am obliged to help mankind achieve equality of outcomes regarding health or longevity. After all, if God wanted us to have equal outcomes, he would have given us equal beginnings. And, since I do not hold death to be the highest bad (far from it!), I do not hold preventing, or more accurately, delaying death to be the highest good. Obviously, there is much more to say, especially as it relates to my obligations to a person right in front of me at any given moment. But let’s not get into a discussion of the good Samaritan too quickly.
Uh, Mike, the country I grew up in, like most countries forces people to pay for military and police protection, fire protection and other emergency measures. Those are equally comparable to the mafia.
Hmm. At the least, I can't see a practical way to handle turning down emergency patients. If someone has a stroke at the mall, or is robbed and stabbed, are you going to ask them for their insurance card before treating them? (this being particularly relevant when the person is incapacitated or has had their wallet taken).
I wish I could engage someone in a foundational discussion of why healthcare exists at all. Why is it such a big deal to care for those who are sick? Scrooge, in "A Christmas Carol", never gets a direct response to his statement "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." I mean, it's one thing to treat the human body as an object for scientific study. It's another thing to provide a service of medical care and receive payment for it. It's a third thing for someone to receive care paid for from a pool of money where a group contributes in advance and claims are administered. But it's something entirely different to say that those who cannot pay at all are deserving of anything. Why does it bother us so much to think of someone dying because they can't afford to pay and no one else will pick up the tab? I have my own opinion on this, but I really wish I could hear what others think.
/shrug. The public already partly pays for the uninsured, since hospitals are required by law to treat people who come in for emergencies whether or not they can afford it. This partly "socializes" medicine, since the cost for those who cannot pay is taken by everyone else through higher prices. As I see it, there are only two ways to handle this: Either let hospitals demand payment/insurance before treating emercency cases (not an option, really, since you might not be in a condition to provide your health insurance information right after you've been hit by a truck), or require health insurance for everybody. The analogy to car insurance is apt, as those who forego it make other people subsidize them.
This government has become the mob. The country I grew up in would never force someone to purchase something they don't need or want from the mobsters buddies. I wonder how much money they are being kicked down for forcing perfectly healthy people to pay who knows what for something that they will never use, or face criminal persecution. What an awesome scam against the american people.
I think that it is completely outrageous that the government could be able to force anyone to purchase anything from anybody if they don't want to. To say that one person is a burden on society because they don't have health insurance is a total lie. I have never had health insurance in my whole life, and on the extremely rare occasions when I've had to see a doctor or dentist well then I just had to pay the bill! Automobile insurance is different because you are sharing the public roads with other drivers and if you cause an injury you have to be responsible for it. Even so you can post a bond if you wish and not purchase auto insurance. I can tell you that the America I grew up in is long gone and this government has become so corrupted as to make a criminal out of the general public if they donm't want to feed the corrupt insurance business. Somehow we have to stop the mob.
Is the health care debate primarily a Christian issue as such? Is anyone claiming it is something like abolition or right to life(Yes I know about those abortion clauses; that is not properly within the scope of this question), or whatever. Could not honest people disagree about state-sponsored health care?
Right on guys! Right on! You all have hit the nails on their heads! Here is the bottom line. Our freedom to choose is the most precious aspect of humanity. We used to have it in America. This is slowly being reduced. If we cannot make choices for ourselves and our families, we are no longer the country we claim to be. It is a ludicrous as making someone pay for an operation when they do not require it. It should remain a private matter. I pay less to my doctor out-of-pocket than when I had health insurance. When are these idiots going to learn that PREVENTION is the key instead of alleviation? The Scooter Store charges Medicare patients ten times the amount for a power chair than if the patient were to pay on their own. The companies, doctors, hospitals, and even the insurance companies are the criminals for playing this game and they must be stopped.
My wife and I don't have health insurance, we work full time jobs, eat healthy, exercise and take care of ourselves. We don't want the government to force us to pay for health insurance. We don't want our hard earned money going to folks who have bad health habits like smoking and eating incorrectly. Many of us, the working middle class, are already over-burdened by taxes and rising living costs. We don't have ANY money to go toward forced health insurance. If the leaders in Washington pass any kind of health reform which forces workers to get health insurance (basically a new tax) then they'll have a worse problem on their hands. Many of us will declare bankruptcy because we simply can't spend any more. Let us be responsible for our own bodies and make good health decisions and spend our hard earned money to eat right and exercise. I understand those who have genetic problems which cause chronic ailments and their need for health insurance. But don't force all workers to pay for health insurance. This reform must have freedom to opt-in. Even my own doctor told me I'm better off financially not paying for insurance. I've saved tens of thousands of dollars by not having health insurance. If more people would eat correctly, exercise, stop stupid habits like smoking, our whole health care system would be in better shape and people would be in better shape. Look around at the citizens of the U.S. Are the majority eating right and healthy? No. Poor health decisions by the majority of our citizens has led to obesity, diabetes, smoking ailments and heart disease. We are independent voters and will vote out ANY and ALL politicians who vote for a forced health insurance system. If my pay goes down because my employer is forced to pay for insurance then it is a TAX. I hope the President will live up to his promise not to tax the middle class or make us pay for this health reform. Let us pay for our own health decisions. Furthermore, if anyone suggests a tax credit for those of us forced to pay for insurance and it doesn't cover 100% of my costs forced upon me, then it is a tax and one that I can't afford to pay.
Ben, that's a fair point: the U.S. government (and state governments) truly are paying an extraordinary amount already for healthcare. I would like to hear if there is any way to improve access to health care for more Americans without taking away the good parts of the system others enjoy. Rather than have a huge war over this in Congress, why not do something constructive though perhaps not quite so grand? I'm thinking here of creating a government fund to cover as many people as we can afford with catastrophic coverage and children's health. Then, if needed, some more regulation to help with costs. Something measured and poltically achievable is better than nothing, especially for those who could get some coverage out of it.
We are being marketed essentially two options A. The current healthcare system - which is mixed good & bad & yes - the costs get ridiculous (particularly for my retired parents whose whole county LOST their supplemental health coverage because there were too many elderly in their Florida county) B. Whatever the OBAMA plan is...(which might be one of those things where some unnamed persons who assemble the bill really would make up much of our healthcare by inserting lots of rules, regs, policies into a bill possibly rushed thru Congress...)This is the scarier option because it concentrates too much power in the FED gov which is not all that human friendly. (And my dad is getting rationed healthcare thru his local Veterans Admin hospital. Long drawn out times before painful shoulder or hip problems can be treated...the VA is doing its best but has too few resources) There surely are OTHER options to make our healthcare better ---as discussed in this article...and elsewhere... ========== I have a SECOND concern...Humans are being devalued by some philosophies out there....The pantheism is getting kinda militant! TODAY I hear that one of our new US Governmental ruling CZARS might be a guy who would allow animals to sue humans. And What does that guy have to do with healthcare??? There may well be MORE people in government who have a Similarly LOWERED view of the human race. So I expect (eventually) to see RATIONING - even euthanasia of the "useless eaters" - not now, but a little later. After all, maybe they will argue that there are too many humans. And that we need to thin out our ranks to make way for more animals. (THis above sure sounds crazy-has vikingmother finally flipped out???--but just search the net...The czar who thot animals should sue humans story was reported on One News Now.) No idea is too crazy to be implemented in this postmodern world..! Gotta reread that CS LEwis space trilogy!
Whoa there, slow down buddy. Some of these you might want to double-check on - such as p59, where "Government will have direct access to your bank accts for election funds transfer". A few don't make any sense - such as "if the government audits a company's books, they'll have to switch to public healthcare". As it stands now, the government can already audit companies. And the last of these statements aren't much different than now - I have fairly good insurance, but the insurance company already rations my healthcare. There's many procedures they don't cover, or offer limited coverage of.
This otttta make ya sweat.... Take a look at what actually is in the Health Care bill. Obama makes disingenuous comments like "You'll still keep your doctor" or "You'll keep your existing health care." He is either lying to us or he has no idea what is in it. Take a look at some of the highlights here: Pg 22 of the HC Bill mandates the Government will audit books of all employers that self insure. Can you imagine what that will do to small businesses? Every one will abandon “self insurance” and go on Government insurance. So when Obama says that there will still be private health care, it’s simply a lie: this mandate will force employers to abandon their private plans. Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – a Government committee (good luck with that!) will decide what treatments/benefits a person may receive. Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE WILL BE RATIONED! (We all knew this, because health care is rationed in Canada and Britain, but Obama kept saying it would not be). Pg 42 of HC Bill – The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. You will have no choice! PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill - HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise. Pg 58 HC Bill – Government will have real-time access to individual’s finances and a National ID Healthcard will be issued! Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Government will have direct access to your bank accts for election funds transfer PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community organizations (read: ACORN). Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Government will create an HC Exchange to bring private HC plans under Government control. PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Government mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange. PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Government will ration your Healthcare! PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Government mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens. Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Government will use groups, i.e. ACORN & Americorps, to sign up individuals for Government HC plan. PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans. AARP members - your Health care WILL be rationed. -PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice. pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue Government on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Government Monopoly. pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ AMA - The Government will tell YOU what you can earn. Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. NO CHOICE. Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families. Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer with payroll $400k & above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll. pg 150 Lines 9-13 Businesses with payroll between $251k & $400k who don’t provide public option pay 2-6% tax on all payroll. Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn’t have acceptable HC according to Government will be taxed 2.5% of income. Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay.) Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (the GOVERNMENT) will have access to ALL Americans’ finances and personal records. PG 203 Line 14-15 HC - "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" Yes, it says that. Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Government will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected. Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill – Doctors – doesn’t matter what specialty – will all be paid the same. PG 253 Line 10-18 Government sets value of Doctor’s time, professional judgment, etc. Literally, value of humans. PG 265 Sec 1131Government mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries. PG 268 Sec 1141 Federal Government regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs. PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing! Page 280 Sec 1151 The Government will penalize hospitals for what Government deems preventable readmissions. Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Doctors who treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission - Government will penalize you. Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Government tells Doctors what/how much they can own. Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion - Government will mandate hospitals cannot expand. pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required. Can u say ACORN?! Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures which of course forces health care rationing. Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc., forcing people into Government plan. Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Government will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people! Pg 379 Sec 1191 Government creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Committee. HC by phone. PG 425 Lines 4-12 Government mandates Advance Care Planning Consultations. Think Senior Citizens end of life prodding. Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Government will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. Mandatory! PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Government provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in how to die. PG 427 Lines 15-24 Government mandates program for orders for end of life. The Government has a say in how your life ends. Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "advanced care planning consultant" will be used frequently as patients’ health deteriorates. PG 429 Lines 10-12 "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from the Government to end a life! Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The Government will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order. PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Government will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life. Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services/Non profit orgs. (ACORN Medical Services here?) Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION. 1 monthly payment to a community-based organization. (Like ACORN?) PG 489 Sec 1308 The Government will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Government into our marriages. Pg 494-498 Government will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services. You’d better speak up now before you are on the "advanced care consultation" list.
Ironically, our government already spends more on healthcare than the total spending (gov't + private) in any other country except Switzerland. We're already paying for universal healthcare without getting the benefits of it (or just massively overpaying for non-universal, if you like).
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