I have posted on this hot topic before and while I still find this an incredibly complex problem to try and resolve I am pleased there are thoughtful folks trying to work through the issues. Of course, I think the ethical or moral dimension is easy, of course we should want everyone to have the best healthcare possible! The challenge is the economics and politics of it.
I particularly like the preamble to Sojourners resource page:
Good health is the will of God for each and every one of God’s children. Death, disease, and pain did not exist in the garden of Eden, and Revelation tells of a “new heaven and new earth,” where once again they will not exist.
In the fallen world in which we live, injury and sickness are a fact of life; physical death on this earth will never be overcome. But scripture paints a clear picture that health was God’s intent from the beginning and will be the goal once again in the end. This means that on a personal, national, and global level the physical well-being of all God’s children is close to God’s heart — and should be close to ours as well.
There is no religious mandate for a specific, God-ordained system of health care or insurance. No amount of biblical exegesis will lead you to a policy conclusion about health care savings accounts, personal versus employer-provided insurance, single-payer public systems, or private insurance plans. Luke might have been a physician, but he never commented on whether or not computerizing medical records should be a national priority.
There is no divine mandate for a certain health care system and biblical exegesis cannot help us with the details of the policy issues under debate. But that doesn’t relieve us from responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Check out their page in full.
3 thoughts on “A Christian approach to the healthcare debate”
Thanks for this. In practice, how does it work in your area? I’ve heard that in NYC and some other places, undocumented workers can be turned away. But I don’t know what the criteria are.
In this neck of the woods (WI), uninsured Americans are not turned away or treated any differently than other patients in terms of actual care. However, deciding when to go after people for payment is a sticking issue. A friend of mine, a CEO of a hospital, told me they do not rely on tax returns only. They do a vehicle check. If someone is driving around in a new Ford truck, pleading poverty doesn’t work. An amazing number of people are opting out of insurance programs in order to buy toys.
Hospitals tend to be quite creative about passing on the costs of care of the uninsured to the rest of us. It’s not a failsafe system, but I’m not sure that making it failsafe on paper through government mandates is the solution. Just saying.
As for federal insurance (Medicare, etc.) and private insurance plans, the plans are full of injustices and weirdnesses but seem in general far less subject to cost restraints than is the case overseas. A lot of what is done here routinely (wisely or not) is simply not done in most other places, Europe included, because the amount of GDP set aside for health care is fixed and not increasing.
John, I am honestly not sure how it works in our area. I thought it was a federal law that everyone had to be treated at ERs which is part of the economic problem. (ER treatment costs much more than routine and preventative treatments.)
It is so difficult to compare systems, even within the US. I heard an NPR story about a Colorado town that has incredibly low cost and effective healthcare. The thing is, the kind of consortium they developed simply wouldn’t scale. No matter how we change the system there will be winners and losers, somethings will be done better, others perhaps not at all. It really isn’t a matter of right or wrong ways of doing things it is more a question of least bad.