Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care and Christianity

Well, now that we have all had a chance to catch our breath after the signing of the Health Care bill, it's time to take a few steps back to really think about how a Christian, not just an American, should think about Health Care. Let me preface everything I am about to say by being clear that I have NOT read the 1990 pages of the bill, so my comments will not be on the substance of the particular bill that just got signed into law.

Now, as a political and fiscal conservative, I could rant on and on about how I don't like big government, how I don't believe health insurance (which is really what I think the debate is all about) is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, how a multi-billion dollar expense when we already are fiscally irresponsible is a bad idea, and many other things. But, I want to approach this issue not as just an conservative American, but as a Christian.

So, here goes:

1) God is concerned about people and we should be, too.

This is not just an American issue, but a human issue. As Christians, we ought to be concerned about the well-being of all human beings and should be willing to sacrifice our "rights" and money to help others. You know, the whole "do unto others" thing? The Reformers rightly understood that the negative commandment to "not murder" presupposed a positive command to care for others well-being.

2) Christians, above all others, should be giving people.

The Bible says that to whom much has been given, much will be required. Now, without taking this verse completely out of context, the general principle is that we as Christians have been given more than anything this world could ever offer. Is it really too much to ask that we are willing to give of our possessions to others to help meet their physical needs?

3) Part of the responsibility of the church is to help those in need.

Of course, the Bible is clear that our primary responsibility is the spread of the Gospel and that, even as far as meeting physical needs is concerned, our responsibility is primarily towards "brothers" or other believers. But we can't get around the biblical mandate to look out for the needs of others and to put "feet" to our words. James 1:27 says "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Perhaps, if the church wasn't so busy building coffee houses and softball fields on our properties, we would have more resources to do what we don't think the government has a right to do.

4) The answer to everything is never government, but always God.

We must understand that we shouldn't get so caught up in politics that we forget our primary responsibility as Christians. Although we are citizens of our particular country (in my case, the United States of America), ultimately we are citizens of heaven. And our primary interests and responsibilities are not related to our earthly home, but our heavenly home. We should be more concerned with the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel than proper functioning of the civil government. Of course, that does not mean that we pull out of government and put our heads in the sand. It means that we seek to make government better to the glory of God while recognizing that we are ultimately dependent on Him, not that government.

This issue is not a simple cut and dry issue. It is very complex and very complicated. As we respond to the events that are currently taking place, we must remember to do so with patience, love and a view to honoring God.


Gieta said...

Doug..thanks for your commentary...I found it interesting. Here is a story that puts a face on the health care story......Four years ago our denomination had to discontinue our health insurance. Previously we had paid 1/2 and the church (or camp) would pay 1/2 of the premium. Sadly the health insurance company was not sustainable and they had to discontinue the plan. For the average person this was inconvient but for us it was tragic. Both my husband and I are uninsurable (Ken has had 4 brain tumors and I have cancer). So.....there we were... no insurance. So we contacted the state of Maryland and became insured under the program that already exists for those who are not insurable....and it is on a sliding fee by income! So....I am trying to understand where the need for health care reform comes in? All this to say....there are people who are totally willing to work and pay for insurance, but because they have previous health problems...they have been denied insurance...or cannot afford the insurance that is available. BUT the truth is there is already a plan in place....?

Rich Boyd said...

from Rich Boyd:

Good comments, Doug. I don't know what to think of the health care bill either. But I do think something has been wrong with the price of health care and insurance, for a while. Being self-employed, I have had to go without any health insurance for my family when we couldn't afford it, then when we could, I had to bear the entire cost, $1,350 per month, which I thought was a lot, and then it went to $1,950 a month when I hit 56, strictly age based. We have all been in good health and rarely use health care of any kind. And this was for a Kaiser-Permanente HMO plan vanilla policy too. No wonder 31 million Americans either can't afford it or choose not to spend that much money in it. We went to a "high deductible" plan where I/we pay the first $10,000 in any given year, and then the insurance kicks in. This saves us about $18,000 a year as long as we're healthy. Save $18,000 a year for a few years and you can afford to pay the $10,000 in a given year if you have to. Our monthly cost is now about $330, which still isn't nothing.

Next, the cost of medicine -- I am told -- is very high. No wonder it's hard for people to afford them.

Next, I'm told that if you have insurance to a doctor you then get a dramatically reduced price for your health care, apparently because the insurance companies negotiate a much lower price. Tell your health care provider you have no insurance and you may also get a tab of $100 for something instead of their "full retail" price of $300. Clearly, something's going on that people have to play such games. Someone's "gaming the system" or something.

It seems to me, "Something oughtta be done about it!" and the question is just, "So what should be done?"

I have no idea whether what the Democrats have passed is that thing or not. Frankly, they don't have a lot of credibility with me. But, I've seen Republicans in government do what I would call "terrible things" too, so...even being a conservative Republican, fiscally and socially, I just have trouble figuring out who to believe.

Doug said...

Geita, I understand your situation a little. My friend I had lunch with last week is 92. 15 years ago, the company of which he is part owner switched insurance companies. The new insurance company refused to cover him and his wife because of pre-existing conditions.

Over the last 5 years, he lost both his son to a heart attack and his wife to kidney failure. Over that time period, he spent well over a million dollars in health care bills. Thankfully, he had the money to do that. And no, he was not born rich. He still goes in to work every day at 92 years old.

But, not everyone has that kind of money. You are right, though. Most states already have some sort of plan in place, making the federal plan unnecessary.