Health Insurance and Religious Freedom

Patrick Reilly over at the Cardinal Newman Center wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal that shows the threat to religous freedom if we have government run health insurance.

As we reflect on the health insurance crisis, a few points need to be distinguished or observed.

  1. The debate is not over health care directly but over health insurance and who will provide it.
  2. Therefore, the issue centers on who, i.e. what bureaucratic agency that controls the money (because we have so willed it) will make decisions about individual person’s health care.
  3. If we further separate authority from responsibility in our health care “industry,” costs will only continue to go up, most of them hidden, and all of them borne by doctors and patients.
  4. Control over health care decisions is control over everything you do, for there is nothing you do that goes unaffected by or does not affect your health care. As the linked article shows, your religious convictions affect the decisions you will make about the health care you provide. What you eat will add costs to the national health insurance budget. Whether and how you exercise, where and how you work, the music you listen to, everything.
  5. Therefore, if the government convinces all the citizens in the country to pay for the health care of all the other citizens in the country, it will stand in between those citizens, judging for them how that money will be spent and how those decisions will be made. And they will, necessarily, make decisions about what and how people eat, dress, work, worship, love their neighbors, etc.
  6. Only the doctor has been trained to know what is best for the patient, yet, even here, through certification, the government has fouled the nest.
  7. It is not obvious that Obama is trying to turn our health insurance into a government run system, but he is certainly taking steps that move it in that direction. We are already way too far along that path and need to turn around.
  8. There is not the national will or understanding to turn around for one simple reason: we have no desire to reconnect responsibility and authority.Furthermore, we don’t trust the people who ought to bear the authority because of that break. It is the same in education, the military, welfare, etc.
  9. The government alone has the power to legally compel people to follow their priorities. If the government is given authority over health insurance (though they cannot bear the responsibility), then we give them power to legally compel us to follow their prioirities in a manner inconceivable to Henry VIII.
  10. And finally, those who are seeking to establish this government run health insurance system need to remember that bureaucracies, once in place, have no more love for those who established them than for those who resisted them.

If we establish a government run health insurance system, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson will feel certain that all their labors were in vain. And they will be right.

We will have had a republic for a little while, but we will not have been able to keep it.

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One Response

  1. Thomas Jefferson, at least, would be rolling in his grave regardless of whether it was a corporate bureaucracy or a government bureaucracy. In fact, the distinction between the two is blurred, and corporations themselves are not without violent means.

    Most of your criticisms can be directed at corporate medicine as well, and there is little evidence that in a completely free, unregulated market that corporations would be weakened.

    In our system (and in the theoretically free market) people’s health must be understood as one commodity among others, the value of it being determined by the subjective machinations of the market. Human beings too, from the purely economic point of view, are resources (this is true regardless of the psychological disposition of doctors and health care providers) that possess no inherent value. This is simply necessary in the purely free market, and it may be the most efficient option. It is efficient because some people, or some people’s health, are simply dead weight loss that must be discarded in order to achieve maximal efficiency.

    This seems to me to be inherently oppressive.

    A public option may also adopt this “economic” point of view, but it doesn’t seem to follow quite as necessarily.

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