Sunday, October 04, 2009

Is Universal Health Care a Religious Issue?

61% of Americans say they favor a government guarantee of health care for all, even if it means raising taxes.

When we get down to cases, the Pew Forum found that the proposals on the table split the population evenly - 42% for and 44% against.

A coalition of liberal religious groups, Faith for Health, backs universal health care. A coalition of conservative religious groups, the Freedom Federation, opposes government health care. Freedom Federation favors more choice and incentives, but holds back from saying the government should guarantee health care coverage for all.

The system we have now, in which the government guarantees health care for sizable hunks of the population - old people, children, poor people, veterans, government workers - is added to a system in which most people get their health insurance through work. That reaches perhaps 85% of the population. Some of the remainder are actually eligible for health insurance, but don't take it.

Still, even with a large government guarantee and a strong system of health insurance for workers, some fraction - say, 10%, or about 30 million Americans - are without health insurance. I don't see any good way to cover them without a government mandate and some kind of government money.

So, is universal health care a religious issue? The Washington office of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), says yes. 56% of mainline Protestants, including the PC (USA), say yes. I say yes.

I think a church that says yes to this question has two options. Either the church supports a state mandate for health insurance for all, or the church offers to provide health care for those who can't afford it.


essessit said...

Why do you believe the government should get involved in religion in this way? Should government offer a government option church to those who have no church?

Gruntled said...

I don't believe government should get involved in religion. I believe the government should take one more step of involvement in health care. I think religious people should support that move, or be willing to provide health care for the poor themselves.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea how much money churches around the world spend to help the poor?

Gruntled said...

Yep. And I don't think the churches have enough money to provide health care to 30 million more people in this country. Which takes us back to the main point.

Anonymous said...

Do you support providing healthcare for illegal immigrants?

Canada life insurance said...

Hello. I also agree that the government shouldn't get involved in religion. There are many people who need the states support, therefore, I agree that the state should improve the health care system.

Take care,


Gruntled said...

I think illegal immigrants, like everyone else, should get emergency care. They should not get elective care on the public nickel. There is a gray area in between on preventive care that serves the whole population, such as vaccinations.

Anonymous said...

Of the $307.7 billion given to US charities, more than $106.89 billion went to religious organizations. This was an increase of 5.5%, or 1.6% adjusted for inflation. This is the second year in a row religious giving has topped $100 billion. The remainder of the donations went to the following groups:

source Giving USA 2009 (for 2008)

I think churches make enough money to help the uninsured poor, but we have given that responsibility to the government. And surprise, surprise they have screwed it up.

Gruntled said...

The Kaiser Commission said this:

"Total spending for those who would
gain coverage under a universal
expansion would increase by $48
billion. Added to the current
spending level of almost $125 billion (which includes all uncompensated care, out-of-pocket payments, and insurance payments for those covered for part of the year) the new dollars would bring the total to $173 billion if coverage were similar to the average
low to middle income person with
health insurance. It reflects the
potential increase in overall health
spending directly attributable to the uninsured, but does not take into account the additional costs
associated with major health coverage proposals."

The $100b going to churches now runs the churches and all the myriad charitable acts they support now. To think that religious people can come up with another $48b just for the medical costs of the uninsured is, I think, unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

"Yep. And I don't think the churches have enough money to provide health care to 30 million more people in this country. Which takes us back to the main point."

"Total spending for those who would
gain coverage under a universal
expansion would increase by $48

Why should it take $48 billion to expand coverage to 30 million more people. That sounds like classic government waste to me.

Many of the 30 million are illegals or choose not to carry insurance and we can't make them to buy this product by force of law.

Gruntled said...

"and we can't make them to buy this product by force of law"

Sure we can. We make all drivers carry auto insurance.

Anonymous said...

That is a weak comparison because not all are drivers.
What other products are you willing to force your fellow citizens to purchase? This discussion may be mute though because I'm not sure in the end that a bill will be passed. It is starting to look like a quagmire to me.

Gruntled said...

Since it would be unethical not to give emergency care to the uninsured, we are paying for them, anyway. I don't think sitting it out is an option.

I don't think the issue will be moot, though, because there are votes and presidential commitment pass some kind of universal health insurance.

And since everyone does get some kind of care, requiring everyone to buy in, if they can afford it, reduces the cost and risk for the population as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Why would it cost 48 billion to cover the 30 million more. I noticed you ignored that.I know you have good intentions. The numbers just don't add up.

Gruntled said...

For the specific cost numbers, you would need to go to the full Kaiser Commission report. They were estimating getting everyone up to average care. Minimal care would, I presume, be less.