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Some Thoughts on “Entitlements”

The last week has been a whirlwind of sickness, doctors, and ER visits.  In less than a week, Josiah had an asthma attack and a neck pain episode that mimicked the symptoms of meningitis…terrifying!  Thankfully, the asthma attack was easily relieved and the neck issue turned out to be a muscle spasm…I was surprised that a two-year old would even have such a problem.

My one goal for today is to make it twenty-four hours without needing any medical assistance!

The irony of all this, is that it is happening at the one time in the last four years that we don’t have health insurance.  So, because we can’t afford the nearly $10,000/year for decent coverage, we now have about that much medical debt.  God help us!

It’s very humbling to walk into a hospital or a doctor’s office and have to tell them that we don’t have insurance.  I am so grateful that they will treat my child anyway.  That is not the case in a lot of places and a child could literally die because their parents can’t pay.  I am also grateful that there are financial aid options such as Medicaid and hospital charities, which will hopefully help us to avoid financial ruin.

I’m too busy with my children to follow much of the political debate but I hear a lot about “entitlements” when I do listen in.   I tend to fall into the conservative category on most issues and I don’t think that living forever on government welfare programs is the way to go…most liberal people probably don’t think so either.  All that to say, I am so grateful that those programs exist for those of us that are ” in between.”

I can’t offer any solutions for the cost of health care or the cost of providing health care to all. However, after going through all this, I can say that I am more sympathetic to the idea that health care is a “right.”  Not because we are somehow “entitled” to it but because God values life…unborn life, illegal immigrant life, 100-year-old life, ALL life!

There has to be a way to make health care affordable, accessible and profitable.

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9 Comments

  1. Ouch! Medical Bills. Yicky. I’m sorry to hear about all that. I know about the whole “no insurance” thing as well.

    I tend to fall into the “conservative” category on issues like this also. Maybe you could even say I’m almost “libertarian.”

    In other words, I don’t believe anyone has a “right” to demand or receive free anything from anybody.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean it is right to deny help to a fellow human being!

    The thought that comes to my mind is the idea of “gleanings” in the Old Testament. It was “right” for Israelites to care for the poor by letting them glean the grain that was missed in the general harvest. It was almost like widows and orphans had a “right” to glean the fields.

    But there was nothing there in the Old Testament for creating a “state” and FORCING people to help the needy in this way. It was a moral law, not a civil law (at least not in the sense that we would call it a “civil law” today).

    And stealing is definitely forbidden in the OT! I don’t see any exception for the “state.” Stealing is wrong.

    What conclusion do I draw from this?

    God holds us accountable morally to help those in need, but He does not allow us to steal from others to do so. That includes TAXING others to pay for what we need – not allowed.

    On the other hand, it is morally right for us to help others when they are in need, and it is morally right that someone should help us when we are in need.

    It is right to ask for help and it is right for that help to be offered. We just don’t get to demand it by force (or have someone else – for example, the government – use force to get it for us).

    Have you ever checked out the various Christian Health Care Sharing Ministries out there? (Medishare and Samaritan Ministries are the two that come to mind).

    They are probably cheaper than health insurance, and they follow a completely different set of principles (and you are exempted from Obamacare if you have them!)

    🙂

    Reply
  2. Jon’s Theory of Why Medical Costs Are High:

    1) The Federal Government (and in some cases the States) has pumped so much money into the medical field and helped make it so lucrative that this has driven up prices.

    2) Many people have such good health insurance that they can get almost unlimited health care. This causes lots of unnecessary use of health care resources thus increasing demand and thus increasing the prices.

    In other words, government programs and private medical insurance are the very things that are causing medical care to be so expensive!

    Reply
  3. I agree with you that no one has a “right” to demand services for free…however I think health care, especially emergency health care, is a little bit different. Do you think that if the government had not passed a law that hospitals must provide care despite people’s ability to pay, that all of them would out of moral obligation?? Maybe, but I really doubt it! How many people might have died within reach of life saving options?

    Maybe I am a bit jaded by a few years of harsh reality…even though I believe everything you said about us taking care of each other being the biblical and best way, I am having a hard time believing that it is possible in the multicultural society that we live in. If taking care of each other is a “moral” obligation, how is the enforcement of it different from enforcing “moral” laws such as do not steal, murder etc…??

    I just think that there has to be a way to provide good quality, justice oriented (no “death panel” type entities) dignified, timely, AND affordable health care to ALL while maintaining a healthy balance between government regulations and private ingenuity and profitability.

    I am all for profitability in medicine. People work hard to be doctors, companies spend lots of money to create new products. Profitability leads to ingenuity. When Josiah was born, he was diagnosed with “hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy” which is a lack of oxygen to the brain at birth. He was immediately placed on an olympic cooling cap system, which is basically a hypothermia treatment to the brain. It reduces inflammation so that if any brain damage has occurred, it will not spread. Later an MRI revealed that he had sustained some brain damage and it was small and isolated. Without that cooling cap, it may have been MUCH worse. Thank God, he is absolutely fine and whatever damage was done has not affected him. Jaison and I were recently watching a show on stem cells and they were doing a story on a boy who had the exact same diagnosis as Josiah…this boy was a paraplegic and could not talk or feed himself…very sobering! LONG story short, I am SO grateful that company was motivated by profit to design that cooling cap!

    All that to say, I realize that our current entitlement system is corrupt in so many ways and really favors and promotes a lack of work… Although it may be necessary for us in this season, I don’t want to be part of it for long!

    Reply
    • We are so used to civil government operating sovereignly over every area of life that we can no longer imagine a world without that!

      As best as I can understand it, government is appointed by God as an agent of force in very few situations. (Romans 13) The key thing to observe is, it is an agent of FORCE.

      The current theory I am operating from (and I haven’t been able to come up with a better one yet) is that human beings are only authorized to use force upon one another when it has been authorized or commanded by God.

      Murder = put to death
      Theft = compulsory restitution plus
      False Witness = whatever crime you were trying to convict someone else of

      If God doesn’t authorize or command it, I am not sure from where we derive the authority to do it.

      In other words, even if I think something is better, what right do I have to compel someone else to do it?

      I can’t find a Biblical Principle that authorizes or commands me to participate in the use of force to make doctors provide a service to somebody. If I agree to a law that does so, then I would be participating in that.

      It would be interesting to see if there are any “good samaritan” laws in the Old Testament.

      I have been thinking about how to separate out moral laws from civil laws in the Bible. (Moral laws would be enforced by God and humans would only use persuasion to get one another to comply. Civil laws would be enforced by man upon man).

      Here is the best theory I’ve come up with so far (which is just a restating of what I wrote above): If God makes a law but offers no command about enforcing it, that is a moral law. It is right and good but we have no authority to “make” anybody do it. If God makes a law and backs it with commands of enforcement than it is both a moral law AND a civil law. Mankind is authorized (and even commanded) to use force on his fellow man to bring compliance with those kinds of laws.

      I am open to learning a better way of viewing the matter, but I haven’t heard one yet.

      I know this, if we are free to force people to do things just because we think those things will make the world a better place and we can persuade 51% of the people to vote for it – well, then this will produce a scary world.

      I do not trust myself, or you, or a majority, or a democracy, or a judge, or anybody to decide what the law should be. I only trust God and I only trust our ability to interpret it if it is found in the Bible pretty clearly.

      Hopefully I am making sense. I haven’t discussed this much with my fellow SBS background types.

      The scariest thing of all is this: human beings using force to create a better world. I don’t see this in the Bible. I see God commanding human beings to use force in very limited situations in order to produce an atmosphere where the opportunity to do good is preserved. This is what I would call “liberty” or “freedom.”

      See, I am becoming a Christian version of a libertarian! 🙂

      Reply
      • I’ll have to think more about this when my kids are asleep! I’m guessing that I will probably agree with you to some extent but i question the practicality of it in our current society. Maybe moving towards a more private charity system is the way to go but it will take time and probably slow change. Maybe some kind of system where people have options for where their tax money goes??

        For now, I will support a law that “forces” hospitals to treat anyone that needs medical care because I don’t want any mother or father to ever have to stand outside a hospital and watch their child suffer because they cannot pay. We took Josiah to the ER a couple days ago because he was having severe neck pain and woke up SCREAMING! All they did was look him over and determine that it wasn’t anything life threatening. That visit will probably cost over $1000. THEN I had to take him to his doctor…another $150….CRAZY!!

        Also, I have looked into MediShare and I like the concept but the cost is essentially the same for a family and I could not find info on whether they cover prescriptions or not. If not, the cost could potentially be MORE than insurance because my allergy medication (which i am not currently taking but should be) costs $200/month. Plus they have limits on certain types or care and the insurance we have been looking into doesn’t.

    • Here are some great thoughts:

      Reply
      • Oh, sorry, this one went up twice and this second one is broken. Feel free to delete it. If I could I would.

  4. Also, just to clarify, I don’t attribute all of Josiah’s success to the cooling cap. I believe that his outcome is so great because literally thousands of people were praying for him and God is good! Perhaps the cooling cap was just part of the answer to those prayers!

    Reply

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