Isn’t Universal Government Health Care a Good Thing?

Title: Isn’t Government Universal Health Care A Good Thing?

Text: Luke 14:28-32, 40

Time: February 5th, 2013

 

There has been a great debate over the last few years in the United States over whether we Americans should have some kind of universal government health care.  Most countries in western Europe already have some form of government-run health care, so for many people overseas the question is curious and strange. Even for many people in our own country, the question is a no-brainer. They ask the question, “Isn’t universal health care a good thing? Why wouldn’t we want it here in the United States?” To oppose it seems cold-hearted to many people; to question it is uncaring and unloving according to those who favor it. But while never questioning the great benefits universal health care would bring to many millions of people, others question whether it is a good idea for America right now because they haven’t seen or heard of a good plan to bring it about. Well, for better or for worse, it’s coming to America, and soon, because the President’s health care plan – or as it’s also called, Obamacare – is starting this year and in a few years will be fully implemented. The Supreme Court ruled last year that it doesn’t necessarily violate the Constitution. So as far as universal government health care coming to the United States; it’s coming and quickly. Barring some huge economic or national catastrophe, or some mass movement on the part of a majority of citizens to oppose it, it can’t be stopped. But whether it comes to be or not, I’d like to address the question that people ask from time to time – “Isn’t government universal health care a good thing?” I want to explain that it isn’t as simple as asking whether universal health care is a good or beneficial thing. That’s just one part of the equation. Another question, apart from the benefits of universal health coverage is, “What will be the cost of universal coverage and is it worth the costs?” And I’m not just talking about the financial cost, but also the social, moral and spiritual cost of government-run health care. In the business world there’s a process called a “cost-benefit analysis,” which means that before a decision is made, the cost versus the benefits of something must be weighed and evaluated. Only after these two factors are considered, the cost and the benefits, can a wise and prudent decision be made. This is what has to be done in respect to government-run universal health care. It isn’t enough to simply think about the benefits of a universal health plan, nor is it enough to only consider the cost of such a plan. Both must be weighed and considered together before a wise decision can be made. In another context, Jesus told his disciples to count the count of discipleship before they signed up to follow him – “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will be he not sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish,’” Luke 14:28-30. That is sound advice whether in respect to any decision-making. Let’s apply it to the question of universal government health care. 

 

First, what are the benefits of universal government-run health care? Luke 4:40, “When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sicknesses, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” Practically everyone who came to Jesus for healing got healed. Outside of a few instances of persistent unbelief almost everyone who was sick and who came to Jesus got healed. This is universal health care on a miraculous scale. Of course, not everyone could reach Jesus, and therefore could not be healed. And also, Jesus only healed for approximately three years, and then he was gone. But while he was conducting his ministry on earth people, if they could get to him, they could receive healing or health care – and it was free. Of course, today there is no such thing as free universal health care. Somebody pays for the medicine, the doctor’s care, the medical equipment, the hospital room, and so forth. But we’ll get into the costs of “free” universal health care in our next point. But for now, let’s examine the benefits of universal health care; and of course, there are many benefits that nobody can deny. Right now, only those persons who can afford health insurance have it. That leaves millions of Americans without it. So what happens when lower income people get sick or injured or need medical attention? They simply go without it – or they pay out of pocket outrageous prices and probably go deep into debt in the process. Or, if they are poor enough, they qualify for Medicaid or some other government or state program to meet their health needs – I’m talking about lowest income people. But what about people who don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford their own private health insurance? They usually go without; or again, they have to pay out-of-pocket premium prices and probably incur a lot of debt. It gets messy. A lot of people are able to get health insurance through their job, but what about those who work somewhere that doesn’t offer health insurance? Again, it gets messy. Now a government-run universal health care plan would simplify everything by offering affordable health care insurance to everyone. Clearly there are great benefits for living in a country that offers its citizens universal health care. It would basically guarantee that everyone in the United States would have access to health care no matter their income. Nobody would be turned away from health care because they couldn’t afford it. It would improve the general health of the citizenship of the United States, no doubt. I don’t think I have to go on and on about the benefits of universal health care coverage because it’s obvious to everyone that there are great benefits for it. Michael Moore, the liberal activist, made a movie entitled Sicko that basically showed all the great benefits other nations enjoy with their universal health care insurance. And we can all agree that there are great benefits and blessings to having everyone covered under a universal health care plan. But that’s just one side of the issue. Now let’s turn to the costs involved. In a cost-benefit analysis it’s not enough to simply consider the benefits of something; we must also consider the costs as well. So let’s do that.

 

Second, what are the costs of universal government-run health care? Luke 14:28-30, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will be he not sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” The point of Jesus’ teaching is clearly that it’s not enough to decide on a worthy goal, but one must also consider the means to achieving it, and most importantly, the cost of making it a reality. In respect to discipleship or following Jesus, it isn’t enough to impulsively sign up, even though one’s intentions are good, but it’s equally important to count the cost of commitment to Christ. Are we willing to pay the price of following Jesus in life? There are many people who go forward at an evangelist’s invitation for salvation, but not as many continue on in the faith months, years or decades later. Of course, the point of the parable in respect to universal government health care is that it’s important for us as citizens to count the cost of implementing a plan before we just commit to doing it. That is why so many millions of people rejected the President’s Obamacare as it was presented to the public – we weren’t given time to count the cost. How much will universal health care coverage cost in the United States in the years ahead? Not only financially, but socially and morally and spiritually? Now the biggest concern by most people is the overall financial cost of offering universal health coverage. It still isn’t clear if our nation can actually afford it. Many of the countries in Europe and elsewhere around the world with universal coverage that serve as health care models and examples for the U.S. are now in deep financial trouble because of their own health care expenses. So it’s not clear whether we can actually afford it. Of course we could raise taxes; but how high would taxes have to go to afford national health care? Again, this is unknown. But as a pastor and Christian church leader, I’m more concerned about the social, moral and spiritual costs of offering universal health in the U.S. In order to implement a national health plan government would no doubt have to expand, grow larger and spread out. But today the reality is our own government is secular and often hostile towards Christian moral and spiritual values. Do we want a secular and anti-Christian government getting bigger and working its way into more and more of our lives? Today, government is pro-abortion and pro-homosexual, values that run contrary to Christianity. If government expands even more in order to administer government health care, how much more will secular values be imposed on us from on high, from Washington? Are we willing to pay that price? Is it worth it? Many of us believe that government is already too big and too influential in our lives as it is, but with a universal health plan it will become many times bigger still. This is a huge price to pay for health coverage. Is it worth it?

 

Third, are the benefits of national health insurance worth the overall costs? Luke 17:31-32, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with then thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” Again, Jesus gives an illustration of counting the costs before making a decision. In this instance, it’s wise and prudent for a king to consider whether his army is large enough to defeat the enemy, whether he should go to war, or whether he should ask for a negotiated peace treaty. Sure, it’d be nice to win a battle and experience all the benefits of victory, but if he can’t defeat the enemy he’d better think of something else. Well, in respect to universal government-run health care it’s the same thing. We need to consider carefully whether we can afford a health plan, considering as many of the costs as possible. It’s possible that we could get into establishing a universal health plan and find out that the numbers just don’t add up and it’s not possible. More likely we’d find ourselves as a nation going deeper in debt until some breaking point is reached – and then there’s no telling what might happen! But besides financial concerns, which are frightening in themselves, a far greater price is our moral and spiritual capital we’d be spending. Even without the massive government needed to run a universal health system in the United States we find ourselves being imposed upon by secular anti-Christian government values. Big government in the form of the Supreme Court imposed abortion on everyone forty years ago – and big government continues to uphold and reinforce this awful decision today. Now big secular government is imposing homosexual immorality upon us all, through schools, through law, through any avenue it can today. Under a government-run health care plan we’d see more secular values imposed upon society, and we’d see more and more Christian moral values discarded and ignored by government as it grows in size and power. We can’t trust government now; do we really want to give government more power and control over our lives in the future? This is the price we’ll pay for universal government health care. For secular people, for atheists, for godless humanists, for far left radical liberals who don’t like Christian moral and spiritual values to begin with, they think it’s a good price to pay for universal government health insurance. But for Christians and others who value traditional moral and spiritual values we don’t think we’d like to pay the price of big government for universal health care. We’d like to explore other ways of providing affordable health care, ways that don’t involve expanding government.

 

There may well be other ways of achieving the universal health care vision. There might be other means that don’t involve increasing the size of our increasingly secular government. The big fear is the government. As Christians we’ve already seen what has happened in the last thirty to forty years as government as turned increasingly secular and hostile to Christian moral and spiritual values. We just don’t trust government. And we certainly have no reason to trust an enlarged government. Based on the trends of the last few decades, bigger government means bigger trouble for Christian cultural, moral and spiritual values. A bigger government means an even more hostile environment for traditional marriage and family. Larger central government means more hostility against Christian and traditional moral and sexual ethics. Buy law government can impose hostile values upon citizens. Buy law government can and does impose the teaching of evolution in public schools. We’ve already seen government recently attempt to make Christian intuitions such as schools and hospitals offer abortion and birth control against their will. And this is before universal national health care is up and running full steam! What will the pressure be when coverage is established? There won’t be any discussion, just imposed secular policy that can’t be questioned. Is that what we want? Is that price worth the benefits? It’s really still an open question whether the benefits of national government-run health care are worth the overall costs. The more I study it the more I question if the costs aren’t too high. If the present size of our secular government wouldn’t increase measurably, and if the financial costs wouldn’t go up substantially, then universal health care might be a good idea. But who can seriously believe that financial costs won’t skyrocket and who can doubt that the government’s size will greatly increase? This all means bad news for anyone who doesn’t already like the way things are going in society in respect to secularization and immorality and godlessness. We only need to look overseas to Europe to see the rapid secular effect big government has on entire populations. In Great Britain we are told the citizens love their NHS, National Health Service, but what else can they say? They are stuck with it, so they might as well make the best of it because it’s not going to change. But do they like their secular society? Do they like the fact that the church is a joke in England? No, literally, people make jokes about the church, the clergy, Christianity, and all things sacred, and mock and even blaspheme God. That’s par for the course in England. This is part of the price society pays for secular government getting big – it imposes secularism on everything. Do I want that in the United States? No. So until I’m convinced that our secular government won’t impose more of its secularism on the little remaining Christian values in our society I oppose universal government-run health care, and urge others to do the same. There must be another, better way of achieving the universal health care vision that doesn’t ruin cultural, moral and spiritual values in the process. I’m for universal health care; I’m just opposed to secular government running it.

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