Friday, August 14, 2009

What IS health care all about, really? A worldly system versus God's provision.

I got this link to a point by point discussion of President Obamas's town hall statements on the health care bill from Z's blog. This is the best and clearest presentation of the problems I've seen -- everyone should read it. It's a rational discussion of just what insurance is all about, no matter who's in charge, and keeps in perspective the undesirability of having the government be the insuring party.

There are complicated calculations involved in any insurance carrier's decision about what to insure and what not to, what to pay for when a claim is made and what not to, based on the economics of the situation. This can't be avoided no matter who runs the insurance. But if there are many insurance carriers to choose from, you can at least choose according to which of them support your own main concerns best. If the government is your only choice you're going to have to accept whatever the government decides, and if you happen to be opposed to, say, coverage for abortion, you might not have a choice but to support it against your will. I'm not saying that's a problem with this bill, I haven't heard that about it, but I'm trying to make a general point. If your concerns are the best kind of coverage for the problems of the elderly, again you can choose among the carriers if there are many to choose from; with the government you have to accept whatever they say the elderly are allowed. And so on.

I'm admittedly barely educated on this and have very little understanding or for that matter patience with the calculations involved in these things. I tend to throw up my hands and say, Oh well, if I can't afford it I'll just have to lump it; if I die I die.

But I think I do grasp the overall situation here. Insurance is an attempt to guarantee expensive medical care to people who can't or don't want to pay for it if it becomes needed. It's a form of gambling. You pay in monthly at what is hoped to be a reasonably low rate so that if you contract a very expensive disease, what you will have paid in won't amount to much of a proportion of what the treatment costs and yet the service providers will be paid fairly. Insurance carriers gamble that the majority of payers will remain healthy and their monthly premiums will subsidize a minority of serious medical needs of a few payers over the long haul.

Unfortunately medical care has become prodigiously expensive in the last decades so that monthly premiums are still too high for a great swath of the population these days. People complain about this but it's ridiculous to complain. The economics of the situation is what determines these things, not people trying to make life hard for other people (although irrational laws can accomplish a lot toward making life hard). But along comes government at this point to promise coverage in spite of economic reality. They even call health care a "right" in blatant defiance of simple reality.

This is the basis for the government reform of health care, that most people can no longer afford insurance. There is no WAY they can afford it either, under ANY health care bill that takes economic reality into account, unless others subsidize them at that level too. When government takes over insurance the situation switches. In the hands of the government it's no longer the healthy who are subsidizing the sick, it's the wealthy who are subsidizing the poor.

This is socialized medicine.

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. -------Thomas Jefferson

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Private insurance companies cannot do this, can't do it practically or legally, but the government can because they can tax us. Private insurance companies depend on a high ratio of the healthy to the sick to have the money to finance the services they are willing to cover. When a great number of people can't afford their rates and the government steps in, now TAXES enter into the financing of services. The greater the need the higher the taxes, and of course the richer will be taxed more than others, the poor not at all in some cases(which is already the case).

There is of course a limit to how much can be taxed out of us so just as with private insurance carriers costs have to be cut somewhere. Where they are cut is a lot of what is controversial about this current health care bill.

We already have socialism to a great extent. It's manifestly unjust to take money from some to finance the needs of others, but that's the way the world is going. We're already half way there; Obama wants to take us further down that road. Private insurance isn't quite so unethical because everybody knows they're gambling and they can choose to take the gamble or not. But under goverment insurance, if the plan really could pay for needed services, it could only do it by extracting a LOT more money from the wealthy for the purpose. If it can't get away with that, it can only do it by cutting services drastically, making health care a nightmare for a majority of the people, spreading not only the wealth but the inconvenience and sometimes the medical negligence of it all, which Canadians and others object to in their own socialized systems, which drives those with complicated medical problems to the USA for our much superior medical services, possibly about to become our late-lamented services.

Perhaps I've misunderstood some of this and I'll try to learn more if the opportunity presents itself.

Meanwhile I've lately developed an objection to insurance as such, from a Christian point of view. It IS gambling. And anything that costs more than you can afford is not a "right." Gambling is bad enough but socialized medicine is downright pernicious. If it weren't for the complicated economic system of health care delivery, care for the suffering would be a VOLUNTARY gift given by those who had the means to those who need them. VOLUNTARY giving is the only RIGHT way to do this. Any form of forced "giving" such as taxation, on the other hand, is criminal.

Unfortunately we have become so used to the system we live under and so passive in the face of it, the very idea of a voluntary system has dropped out of view except for a few who have the wealth to help some people without even feeling the crunch. In the early days of Christianity there were many acts of mercy performed by the followers of Christ, ordinary followers with minimal incomes, often self-sacrificially. It was common for unwanted babies to be exposed to die, but Christians would take them in and care for them and raise them. The sick were also left to die in the streets, and again Christians would take them in and care for them. Eventually Christians developed orphanages to care for rejected or parentless children, and hospitals for the sick. This all started from Holy-Spirit-inspired Christian compassion, without expectation of monetary reward, strictly in service to God. It has since grown into this gigantic social institution that is run for profit and no longer by Christians. In a sense the unbelieving world is trying to do on a wordly economic basis what Christians originally did in obedience to God. That's really what Marxism is too, the aping of Christ by the corrupt fallen nature on the basis of worldly thought, and historically it's always led to unimaginable horrors because it has the wrong foundation.

I think Christians need to rethink all this. I think Christians need to find a way to opt out of the government system if at all possible, as receivers at least if we can't as payers, trust in God, and focus ourselves on taking care of each other one way or another. I think if we set our minds to do this, refuse everything that amounts to gambling (it's a substitute for faith), think in terms of self-sacrifice, do it all with constant prayer for God's guidance and provision, we could revolutionize the care of the suffering just as the early Christians did. I don't know what form this would take, I'm admittedly short on specifics and long on theology, and I also feel uncomfortable proposing anything along these lines because at the moment I'm more likely to be a candidate for the care than for the self-sacrificial giving, but I pray God won't let me stay in this situation but will put me in a position to be of use to others in spite of my lack of means. He can do that. "All things are possible with God." Anything done in His power transcends all human effort. It starts with Christians seeking God for direction and power.