Friday, July 10, 2009

The Christian Approach to Health Care

I've got to speak out for Christians and against Christians regarding the idea of making sure every American has access to a reasonable amount of health care.

Before we get to the Christian part, I want to define what I mean by "a reasonable amount of health care". I mean that every kid should have access to a child-trained internist or pediatrician, and a dentist, and that whatever preventive care they need will be covered. I also mean that if anyone gets severely injured or becomes seriously ill, the health care system will treat them without sending them a bill beyond a reasonable co-payment. But, there should be some limits to care; for example, defining when people are terminal and stopping useless care, and defining when continuing health problems are self-inflicted and requiring patient compliance in order to receive continuing care. I don't mind a little "tough love". Enough said about that.

Some Christians really believe in "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and "love your neighbor as yourself". They understand that health care is a basic human need like food and shelter. If you don't have it, really bad things often happen. You lose your teeth; you may get preventable diseases that can wreck your life; life-threatening conditions aren't diagnosed promptly, etc. Real Christians put themselves in the position of fellow Americans and their children who can't afford health care, and they understand that the current system is wrong, even un-Christian. They consider the consequences if their own children had no dental care, for example, and they can't believe that other people's children should be in this position. These Christians will support any reasonable plan that will result in everyone having access to health care, even if they have to pay more to ensure all are covered.

Other self-described Christians don't agree that health care comes under the rubric of a basic human need. They may view those who don't have it as unworthy and lazy, having not worked hard enough to buy insurance or get it from their employer. Or, they may view those who don't have health care as "the poor, who will always be with us" - too bad, so sad. Or, they may simply admit they don't want to pay for someone else's health care because they need all their money for themselves. I know Christians who espouse each of the above points of view, both average people and politicians.

Well, at the end of the day the health care debate is all about money. Some Christians value the health and welfare of their fellow men, women and children over money. Some Christians value getting or keeping their own money over providing for the health and welfare of others who, mostly by accident of birth and opportunities, lack the resources to pay for medical care. If Jesus happened to drop by, which of these would he recognize?

1 comment:

Eusebius said...

Nicely put!