I’ve got some thoughts on the issue of government sponsored healthcare. I’m also aware that I’m far from alone in having an opinion in the matter. But maybe the parts of this conversation that I would choose to dispute aren’t the ones that we hear as much about. Maybe. To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve got zero statistics, I’ve done minimum research into the matter, and I’m a long ways from being a journalist. Just some scattered thoughts.
My feeling all along is that the current administration would use this whole thing only as a platform for election; that the Democrats would rally around it for a period time; and then once it came time for the rubber to meet the road the collective reaction would be, “Wow there’s no way we can pay for this.” This is yet to be seen even though it does appear that many are losing stomach over it and President Obama’s approval ratings continue to go down, primarily, because of this single issue.
Hopefully we can agree that there is a basis for helping people—a biblical basis. Jeremiah 22:16 and John 21:16 both identify meeting the needs of people as something to be commended, if not expected, in God’s eyes: “He made sure justice and help were given to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” Through Jeremiah God is telling His people through the prophet why He favored King Josiah.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. John 21:16
In the passage from John above Jesus is essentially directing the church to do likewise: “take care of the people.” The point here is that we should be helping people. We the people have an obligation to our fellow men. So this isn’t the issue. The issue is pretty simple: is this a place where our government should intercede.
So here we go. This is the editorial part. The sliver of this conversation that continues to bother me is the sentiment that we “deserve quality healthcare.” Really? Admittedly, making this idea a part of the collective vernacular is a masterstroke. Who wants to say that people don’t deserve something. These days that’s just un-American. I’ve caught myself repeating “we all deserve quality healthcare”, only recently stopping to think about what it was I was really saying. Do I really “deserve” quality healthcare? Does anybody? And what do we mean by “quality”? Is this something the US government owes me as a citizen?
And then there’s the escalating costs. Really, healthcare costs are through the roof. I pay into this big pot … and then continue to pay. And it goes up every year—for everybody! A lot. But is it really because of a lack of competition within the industry? I understand the argument about competition and, granted, what we’ve got is not without flaw. And I don’t disagree. I pay the high costs like anyone else. But I just can’t get on board with the thinking that the government can or should tackle it—that it can make it better. The effectiveness and ineffectiveness of this measure is one thing, but you want to talk about out-of-control costs. In that regard government healthcare has disaster written all over it.
However if you don’t think that our healthcare system is already socialized, think again. My insurance dictates what the doctor receives as compensation for the care I receive. Insurance premiums are high in part of because so many of us do whatever we want to do, don’t do the things we need to do, eat everything under the sun, and then get a prescription that corrects all their problems. But we all pay for it. Personal accountability, or lack of it, is a significant contributor to the high costs we all pay. More affordable healthcare options could possibly only enable this cultural trend.
Regardless, there’s merit to the “many” taking care of the “few” approach to healthcare. But that’s just it, isn’t it. This responsibility is not the government’s responsibility. Or at least it wouldn’t seem like it to me. But if “we” are not going to contribute of our own volition; rather, continue to feed ourselves more than we need, practice our consumeristic tendencies, and withdraw more and more into ourselves—if we abdicate the responsibility—then maybe it is the government’s responsibility. That’s a point of tension for me since the government has never had incentive to be efficient (but in their defense it wasn’t created to run this sort of thing, either). Despite the fact that we have what is probably the greatest form of governing ever, government-run health insurance is not why it was formed. Essentially, this move would be contrary to the Spirit of ’76 and what we intended in the word “American.”