April 23, 2014

Mike Bird: N.T. Wright and Michael Kruger on Healthcare

Health care reform5

Note from CM: Thanks to Michael Bird for sharing this article with us. Bird, an Australian Bible scholar, is Lecturer in Theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry. His new, well-regarded book is Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction, and Scot McKnight has begun blogging about it at Jesus Creed. Mike blogs at Euangelion.

I suggest that you not only read the post below, but also Mike’s longer piece on the subject from 2012, entitled “Evangelicals and Health Care”. Both of these pieces provide a view from “across the pond” on our health care debate in the U.S. It never hurts to get a different perspective, even if you end up disagreeing.

For a contrary point of view, look at the post written to counter NT Wright that is referenced below, Michael Kruger’s article, “Obamacare, N.T. Wright, and the “Via Media”.

I’m looking forward to a spirited, civil discussion today.

* * *

Michael Kruger, New Testament scholar and President of RTS-Charlotte (see his forthcoming book on The Question of Canon), takes exception to N.T. Wright’s critique of evangelical opposition to the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.” This is what Wright said in an interview:

In your country, for example, there seem to be Christian political voices saying that you shouldn’t have a national healthcare system. To us, in Britain, this is virtually unthinkable. Every other developed country from Norway to New Zealand has healthcare for all of its citizens. We don’t understand all of this opposition to it over here in the U.S. And, we should remember: In the ancient world, there wasn’t any healthcare system. It was the Christians, very early on, who introduced the idea that we should care for people beyond the circle of our own kin. Christians taught that we should care for the poor and disadvantaged. Christians eventually organized hospitals. To hear people standing up in your political debate and saying—“If you are followers of Jesus, you must reject universal healthcare coverage!”—and that’s unthinkable to us. Those of us who are Christians in other parts of the world are saying: We can’t understand this political language. It’s not our value in our countries. It’s not even in keeping with traditional Christian teaching on caring for others. We can’t understand what we are hearing from some of your politicians on this point. Yet, over here, some Christians are saying that it’s part of the list of boxes we all should check off to keep in line.

Kruger, who I’ve met briefly and had the pleasure of corresponding with a few times, takes aim at Wright for these words and you can read his response here.

BirdmanSome time ago I wrote a very large blog post about Evangelicals and Healthcare that attracted lots of hits and comments (mostly angry comments). But I stand by my arguments and what is more I endorse the testimonies of the American Ph.D students who lived in Europe and saw and experienced the value of Government provided health care.

Let me respond to Kruger’s criticisms:

First, on Wright’s via media tendency, well ever since the Elizabethan Act of Uniformity (1558), via media is how we Anglicans roll.

Second, Wright’s claim that every western democracy from Norway to New Zealand has universal healthcare should give Americans pause for thought. Yes, America is in many ways distinct, but not  always in a good way. It has higher rates of gun violence, higher rates of incarceration, and greater economic inequalities than other nations. The fact that the USA has ten million children without adequate healthcare coverage is indeed distinct, but a distinct injustice and a travesty. Economic freedom is great, so is small government, low taxes, low deficits, and responsible economic management. But fiscal policy should not be pursued at the the expense of our moral obligations to help others in need and to take care of the poor and vulnerable among our citizens. Call that socialism if you like, I call it Christian ethics! In fact, the reason why so many other countries have universal healthcare – not just Europeans by the way – is because these countries were driven by Christian voices to do so!

Third, Kruger affirms, as I expect he would, that we should indeed help the poor (note, I’m not accusing Kruger of being unconcerned about people’s welfare).  But he asks why it should be the government’s responsibility? Is this not a church responsibility? Well, yes, the church has a responsibility to care for the poor, and the best way to do that on a national level is to form a government that acts out of Christian values to help people and to help each other. I’m not buying into this Government vs. the People thing. Government is the representatives that the people elect. Correct me if I’m wrong but the first document of the first U.S. Government reads, “We the people …” Government is people, our people, well, at least until they replace politicians with robots. Watch out for the Obamabot 3000 in the 2020 POTUS election! In its Revelations people, you’ve been warned!!!

Kruger keeps using the tag “socialist” as a way of invoking a scary label for his readers. Let me put my conservative political cards on the table and say that I rather like what Margaret Thatcher once said, that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. That is why in order to share wealth you have to create wealth. You need economic freedoms and economic mobility to foster economic growth in order to sustain Government services in growing populations. But even without being a socialist, we should have a social concern to provide healthcare for our fellow citizens, wherever a government is elected by people with broadly Christian concerns to provide a basic level of healthcare for all.

When it comes to the American evangelical opposition to universal healthcare, global evangelicals look at them with a mix of disbelief and disgust. Its not just N.T. Wright, ask someone at the Lausanne Congress or at the World Evangelical Alliance or at the Tyndale Fellowship what they think about American evangelicals howling protests against Obamacare! We are mystified as to how can good Christian men and women oppose – in some cases in the name of religion- providing healthcare for it citizens. Yes, I know there are some grey areas like the contraception mandate, and so forth, I understand the religious freedom objection, but the general principle of providing adequate healthcare for all should be championed by evangelical Christians who follow the teaching of Scripture.

I’m writing this so my American friends can, as your own poet Robert Frost said, “See ourselves as other see us.”  Why do global evangelicals look at you in this way? Maybe its not us who are enthralled to a godless philosophy! I want to challenge my American evangelicals friends to consider whether your views of healthcare are truly biblical, and to consider whether you have been blinded by a culture of hyper-individualism, economic rationalism, placing faith in market forces. Because to outsiders the anti-Obamacare thing looks like “civil religion,” a syncretistic concoction of Christian teaching, Republican partisanship, capitalistic-worship, and social darwinianism with its mantra of the survival of the fittest. Let me add that much quoted phrases like “God helps those who help themselves” and “Don’t tread on me” are not found in Scripture. Do you know what is found in Scripture? — “love justice” and “do kindness” (Mic 6:8), “remember the poor” (Gal 2:10), “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11), and words I recently read in 2 Corinthians just yesterday, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little’” (2 Cor 8:14-15; Exod 16:18).

Oh, and when, will ETS let me host a panel discussion on evangelicals and healthcare!

Comments

  1. This might be slightly off topic (if so, please feel free to drop it) but I’ve heard the LDS runs their own network of health care. Is this true? Does anyone know how well it works?

    • I don’t know about that but in general Christians should be much more embarrassed by the LDS Church than we are. They often seem to show much more fruit than we do (not that they are Christians but they look much more like Christians than Christians often do).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        My writing partner tells me since the economy went south, the Mormons are growing like crazy in his area. The reason all the new Mormons give is the Mormons’ reputation for taking care of their own who have fallen into hard times. The Mormons do more than say “Be Warm and Well Filled, I’LL PRAY FOR YOU(TM)” then cross to the other side of the street to avoid you and your cooties.

        • But…BUT…

          …once you’re in the Mormon fold, watch out! It’s the Mormon way or the highway, and they’ll cut you off if you dare drift in the faith. Grace outside the church, little grace inside.

          • John Costello says:

            And this is different from, say, Mars Hill, … how?

          • I wasn’t drawing any comparisons to Mars Hill or any other church. I was just pointing out that before people give the Mormons a pat on the back for their good deeds, remember that they have their own issues.

            And anyway….doesn’t everyone?

            (And now we’re back to the need for Jesus and the Cross.)

  2. CM , please explain the leap from “Christians taught that we should care for the poor and disadvantaged”, to the conclusion that the best strategy is to “form a government that acts out of Christian values”. (Set aside for the moment that Saturday Ramblings here at I.M. are a subtle poke at right wing evangelicals who also want a government that acts out Christian values.)
    How do you know that’s the best strategy?
    And who defines what kind of government healthcare best reflects Christian values for the poor and needy? Health plans in the current A.C.A. must cover items that many Christians don’t support, such as abortions and sex reassignment surgery.
    Where in scripture do we see the appeal to Caesar to implement Christian values?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > How do you know that’s the best strategy?

      Nobody does. You crunch numbers, examine experience, and you make a decision. Experience does illuminate ideas that have not worked, and some that have. And if you are wrong, you change your mind. Having “An Answer” is not a requirement, if it is then everything stalls. Because there will never be one.

      > And who defines what kind of government healthcare best reflects Christian values for the poor and needy

      Congress and the other facilities of the elected government. Or not. Depends on who is elected.

      > Where in scripture do we see the appeal to Caesar to implement Christian values?

      (a) we do not live under a Caesar, we live in a secular constitutional democracy.
      (b) where is scripture does it say he cannot aid the poor or disenfranchised [and "social welfare" programs are not new, even kings had them of occasion. they are handy for avoiding violent revolutions]

      > Health plans in the current A.C.A. must cover items that many Christians don’t support, such as
      > abortions and sex reassignment surgery.

      And I, as Socialist, 110% agree with you. But this is not a baby and the bath-water situation. Why does it not cover dental care? I support getting rid of the controversial coverage [out of respect for the strong beliefs of those I do not agree with] and covering services that, by the numbers, have a huge correlation with overall health and thus health-care costs. If you look at the numbers, although it may seem strange at first, dental health correlates as a leading indicator for all manner of ailments and disease. It would be more effective, and more respectful, to drop contraception coverage and include dental care. As an aside – contraception coverage as a private insurance option, by itself, would (a) be affordable to many and (b) something all manner on NGOs already provide on a large scale [at least in urban areas]. NGOs should be left to handle red-hot issues, so that people can opt-in and opt-out voluntarily; there is plenty of work for the civil state to do, work that is banal but vital (and generally under a consensus of views).

      But sex politics is so charged, it is a banner issue for many on the “right” and many on the “left”. That, IMO, is not a Socialist issue, the sexual issues are straight-forward social-engineers [on both sides]. [Please note: *many* on the right, not all, and *many* on the left, not all].

      • Josh in FW says:

        This is one of the most reasonable posts from a “socialist” that I’ve read. :-) Good points.

      • John Costello says:

        I wonder … how big a religion do you have to be for medical interventions you find “controversial” to be excluded from government provided healthcare? Jehovah’s Witnesses find blood transfusions to be unacceptable. And what about Christian Scientists?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Where in scripture do we see the appeal to Caesar to implement Christian values?

      Do you mean “Christian values” as in Christian Sexual Morality?
      That appeal gets made all the time.

    • Patrick Kyle says:

      Exactly , Steve.

      ” Because to outsiders the anti-Obamacare thing looks like “civil religion,” a syncretistic concoction of Christian teaching, Republican partisanship, capitalistic-worship, and social darwinianism with its mantra of the survival of the fittest.”

      ……. says the pot to the kettle. Universal health care touted by non-american Christians is every bit as syncretistic as what they accuse those of us Christians in the states as being. NT Wright mixes the ethic of Jesus’ compassion with the workings of big government and stifling taxes and declares this to be the ONLY possible Christian position.

      Also, none of our continental brothers seem to be willing to address the morality of going on a governmental spending binge when many of these governments, including our own, are almost bankrupt, and are only kept afloat by shady accounting, running up huge debts, and engaging in schemes that amount to writing checks to ourselves to stay ‘solvent.’ We are endangering our entire country with this kind of financial irresponsibility and have probably financially sabotaged our younger generations.

      One of my best friends is the son of a prominent physician (now deceased) He told me that back before insurance companies and government became bedfellows, his dad would see all his patients who were too poor to pay every Friday, and treat them for a reduced rate or even for free. Every Christmas he instructed his accountant to write off all outstanding patient debt. But with increased regulation and the ever increasing cost of malpractice insurance he had to abandon these practices. Some good tort reform and opening up cross state markets to medical competition could go a long way to decreasing the cost of health care in the US. Government intervention and over regulation caused this mess, and now they are blaming the free market and selling themselves as the cure. That is like a drunk trying to drink himself sober.

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        This guy talks about the special anti-competetive privileges granted to medical companies by the government, which are the real cause of sky rocketing health care prices.

        http://www.market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=3027479

      • Patrick,

        Look, that is absolutely wonder what your friend’s dad did, but your friend’s dad was a GP (family doctor). I and one of my kids see specialists for our conditions, my doctors don’t deliver babies, etc. So, even if my family doctor was that kind of guy and health care was private in Canada, we would still be in massive debt because it would require all the specialists to act that way ( and their costs are way higher, their education takes a lot longer than a GP, so they can’t afford that sort of policy).

        The truth is, citizens can work to make the government accountable to Christian values, without having the government be Christian itself. They can rally for justice, help for the poor, etc. Also, I love how everyone here says they are against abortion. Let’s talk medically for a second. If a woman is dying due to her pregnancy (untreatable Preeclampsia for example) would you deny her an abortion? No, then who should pay? In the murky world of obstetrics, life isn’t so black and white. Many women have poor health and dangerous conditions that should be on strong birth control. Drug addicts give birth to some of the saddest cases of all. In the medical world both contraceptives and abortion are often life saving measures, not just random “choices” doctors are obliging woman with. So, yes, I support my government giving abortions (medically necessary) and contraceptives to women who are down and out or have serious health issues.

        As for those using abortion as a back-up birth control, I don’t like it, but I take that up with the women themselves. I have, and I suspect you haven’t, but I could be wrong, convinced a woman not to have an abortion (she chose to have an infertile couple adopt her baby instead). I did it because I had friendships with people who weren’t Christians, but who I loved and spent time with. If you want to combat society’s evils, go out and love people, enter into their lives and be there for them, then you can speak into their lives and they can make better decisions. When she and her new boyfriend wanted to have an abortion because they were afraid the baby’s father would intervene and take the baby himself, I took her ex out for coffee and asked him his thoughts. He didn’t want the baby and wanted her to have the abortion. So, I asked both of them about adoption and he said he would be fine and wouldn’t interfere as long as he didn’t have to raise the baby. It took time, tears, and tons of prayer, but it all worked out in the end. Persuasion is better than force.

        • Patrick Kyle says:

          A close relative called me one day in tears, she was pregnant out of wedlock and all the women in the extended family were urging her to have an abortion. She had been pregnant before, and at the urging of these women had an abortion. She was consumed with guilt for killing her first baby (her words, not mine) and couldn’t bear to do it again. I told her to have the child and my wife and I would raise it if she didn’t think she could do it. She ended up raising a fine son.

          As to abortion to save the life of the mother, this happens in less than 1 of 1000 live births. Also, abortion to save the mother’s life was legal even back in the days when abortion for other reasons was not, and would be again. I and many like me have no stomach to help pay for abortions for reasons other than to literally save a mother’s life. Check the stats at the bottom of this article on reasons cited by women for getting an abortion. http://www.abortionfacts.com/facts/8

          • Actually, if it isn’t written in the law, even medically necessary abortions can be denied. See Ireland in general for mass stupidity on this. I just checked the stats as medically necessary abortions are federally funded in the US, so it keeps statistics on these. In the year I found (2008) it was 0.973 or almost 1% (way higher than 1/1000), so, let’s stick with the federal stats.

            Since almost 1% of pregnancies require abortions for medical reasons (as in not for birth control or as a response to rape, etc.), that is a lot of abortions that would need to be covered, and actually are already in the US (just learned this). Then, lets add that the definition of “necessary” would need to be fleshed out. As in, waiting until the babies heart has stopped beating is often too late for the mother (again, see Ireland, and a handful of dumb cases in the US).

            An interesting effect of public health care in Canada is that although we have absolutely no laws around abortion, no woman without a life threatening condition can find a doctor to give her a late term abortion in my province. I know many pro-life nurses and hospital and admins and they all agree it isn’t done through public health. A late term abortion for non-medical reasons would take away a hospital bed, and a doctor’s time and the general attitude is: “if you wanted an abortion, you should have asked sooner, I’m not doing it.” Compare that to the US, where women can find someone to give her an abortion well past 21 weeks. Certain immigrant groups want abortions after they know the baby’s gender (this isn’t usually given out before 19 weeks in Canada, to prevent this), so they women all head over the boarder to the US to get the late term abortions, since there are providers who will do this. Yes, late term abortions are much more rare, but finances and practicality do become a determining factor in favour of public health vs private.

            Glad to hear you had the chance to convince a relative to have her child!

            We also adopted a special needs child from foster care and had no concerns about medical costs for him (he has a rare genetic condition, but doesn’t need specialized at-home items, just specialist doctors and occasional hospital stays). I would say, overall, it is better for a society to offer affordable health care to everyone than not. Ironically, the US has a much higher abortion rate than all other developed nations, so I am not sure Christians are off the hook in a salt/light sense with regards to abortion. Just because they covered by your government (well, they can in rape, incest cases already), doesn’t mean your hands are clean. How many verses in the Bible tell us to take care of the poor and bring justice? How many tell us to make sure every dime we give the state is spent the way we want? Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s and argue for mercy and justice for the downtrodden.

  3. When is the last time an American Christian acknowledged a Christian from another country may be right?

    And how much of this opposition is tied into eschatology, I wonder?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest) and It’s All Gonna Burn(TM), why should you care?

      Especially when you’ve got your Rapture Boarding Pass and God WILL beam you up before anything bad can personally happen to you?

  4. Pastors and teachers are the two groups I’d want to keep the farthest away from public policy, because they seem to be the least able to understand complicated economic problems.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I’d disagree. I know so many wise and literate teachers I’d have a hard time enumerating them. Many of the members of the Hauenstein Center are educators [you'd exclude them? Gleaves Whitney is a towering intellect and a local treasure].

      Pastors, yes, my experience with pastors [this site excluded] has been simply tragic. But I’m certain they are out there. Any defining “pastor” is hard. Is faculty at a religious college a “pastor”? Is a military chaplain? There are many impressive people in those subsets, over the range of political positions.

  5. I am an American who has been living in Europe for 8 and a half years – 3 years in the UK, 5 and a half years in Belgium. Also, my wife is British. So I’ve been living in a society that does value social healthcare very much and I’ve learned a lot.

    Maybe just a few points to consider:

    1) How did the whole European social healthcare come about? In discussion with another pastor friend of mine, a Canadian-American, he helpfully put it this way: Following the war, America came home as the heroes with everything still in tact. Europe ended the war with most everything obliterated. Nothing much was in tact. The people of Europe needed help – and who did they turn to? They asked the government to help. Hence, the formation of various social aspects of European society, including healthcare.

    2) Europe is not socialist, in its full-blown sense. Many Americans tend to think of a socialist perspective as full-on communism. That’s not what exists in Europe. What we have in Europe is a social democracy. The people still vote democratically on various issues, but they do look to the government to help organise many of these aspects, like healthcare.

    3) Every single “system” has it’s positives and negatives. Capitalist, free-market economy is not inherently “God’s way,” but neither is social democracy. There are good things and challenges to each, ebbs and flows where one perspective creates a positive in one area, but then creates problems in another area. That’s reality. But what I think many of my American brothers & sisters need to guard against is the demonising of one side or the other. So I’m from the Bible-belt in America and many folk demonise social healthcare. It’s not inherently evil – that’s just reality. It has problems (again, just as the free-market does). But it’s NOT inherently evil. And I think those who are in favour of social healthcare need to also be careful in demonising non-social healthcare (and I’m not saying that is what Bird is doing here).

    What I would take to challenge in the article is a statement like this: “I want to challenge my American evangelicals friends to consider whether your views of healthcare are truly biblical.”

    Now, caring for the poor is very important to God. But the thing we must guard against is how we evangelicals constantly juxtapose the word “biblical” with another word like “healthcare” or “economics” or “womanhood”, etc. I’m not always looking to develop a “biblical” view on a particular issue, mainly because the Bible might not address that particular issue in any great detail. Of course, we can consider what Scripture says about economics – and it emphasises the care of the poor, etc. But, it does not detail how this all unfolds within a particular society.

    My family and I are moving back to the States in just a few short weeks. So it will be interesting to see if/how I get reverse culture-shock readjusting to life in the US. But after 8+ years in Europe, I’m actually quite open to social healthcare as something that can be helpful in caring for the poor. Perfect? No. But, again, neither is the normal capitalistic culture of America.

    Lastly, just to say that I cannot see where NT Wright is specifically advocating for the ACA (“Obamacare”). Of course, his comments come in light of the rage that has come forth from many Americans in recent months and years. But I think Wright’s words are just general thoughts about social healthcare. I don’t know Wright, but I suppose he wouldn’t advocate intrusion upon someone’s religious ethics (i.e. mandated contraceptions) in the midst of establishing a social healthcare.

    Sorry for the long thoughts. :)

    • Forget the whole “Christian” aspect of it. what EU country is considered to be “Christian”? Norway? Britain? Germany? Which of them uses the bible or Christ’s teachings to determine policy?

      And as I asked below, how is health care paid for in the EU? Is there a universal mandate as Obamacare requires? Do the middle class get gouged with insurance rates as is happening in the States?

      • I cannot speak for Europe, I can talk about Canada.

        In each province there is one insurer. Premiums are often paid by the employer. It costs $133/month for a family of 3 or more in my province. Coverage is not optional. You choose your own Doctor, hospitals.

        All healthcare authorities and hospitals, physicians bill the plan for their services. Since the plan does not generate enough revenue, any extra needed is given by the government out of tax revenues.

        Practically, this means a large funding liability for governments. It is not perfect and could be adjusted and optimised. But by and large, people think it is superior to a for profit system.

        • Ken, I’m self-employed here in the States and I pay five (5) times that for the same coverage–family of 3 or more–but my coverage has the highest deductible that Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield offers–$15,000.

          Which means that I have to pay everything but catastrophic coverage, that is, anything after the $15K deductible is met. Per person, up to two family members, or a total liability of as much as $30,000 per year. Plus the monthly premiums. And don’t get sick or injured late in the year because the tab starts again on January 1st.

          But, at least as a self-employed person I’m not a slave to my employer for health coverage, and that system is insane. Millions of people are afraid to change jobs or risk starting their own business for fear of losing coverage.

          I’m trying to find out what Obamacare can do for my family, but the website needs a little time. And I will say, that it doesn’t even resemble socialism. If anything, it’s a plum for the already-bloated insurance companies, and a capitalist tool. The irony of it is that the Right Wing gets to call it socialism and smear the president for the wrong reasons, while investing in health care and insurance stocks, which can only go up in value.

          I love your country, by the way, and I’ve hung out with a number of your medical professionals so I’m not fooled by the scare tactics about your system that we hear on this side of the border.

          • “And I will say, that it doesn’t even resemble socialism. If anything, it’s a plum for the already-bloated insurance companies, and a capitalist tool.”

            Nail on head.

          • Robert F, in light of yesterday’s announcement, here’s what James Madison said about an unstable system, and who profits from it (Federalist #62):
            “The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?

            Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.”

  6. It’s not a Christian thing, it’s a Bismarckian thing. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and (I think) Singapore all have national health care.

    • And how is it paid for and how is it administered? Plenty of counttries but NOONE is talking about how they administer and pay for it.

      • We pay for it, in the form of taxes. Over time, it balances out.

        As a personal example, when I was 14, I had surgery for a potentially life threatening genetic heart condition (Wolff Parkinson White, ablative therapy). There were some complications. What was meant to be a fairly simple two hour procedure turned into a nine hour ordeal. If my family had had to pay for it, they would have been bankrupt. As it was, it was covered by the taxpayer, and free from that financial burden, my family carried on with life, and I eventually went to university, got a good job, and more than paid back the costs of that procedure in the form of taxes.

        It’s worth pointing out, that often in smaller countries like my home of New Zealand, the population is only big enough to justify a single ward in a single hospital for a given speciality. The taxpayer/government pays for it, because otherwise the single commercial provider with a perfectly in-elastic monopoly would charge what ever they wanted. Instead of squeezing as much profit out of sickness as possible, the aim is to squeeze as much care out of the budget as possible.

      • Same as education, Oscar. Complicated but not impossible. And, like education, the burden is borne even by those who don’t have kids in school (or in this case who don’t get sick) because it’s considered in the public interest to educate people. Or to keep them healthy, non-contagious, and productive.

        Productive may be the key word. Such people can make more money for the capitalist system, from which all blessings flow. So let’s just call it an investment, shall we, not a hand-out. Like education.

        • So, Ted, what you are saying is that everyone pays a REASONABLE amount of money. Obamacare does NOT meet that description! One person is forced by law to pay thousands a year (in MY case$6000 MORE a year next year than what I pay now) in order to subsidize those on the other two ends of the spectrum. The middle gets squeezed again. From what I gather, other countries have single payer with government making sure no one gets gouged as in Obamacare.

          I would MUCH rather pay an extra $100-$200 a month more to subsidize the government covering the extremes while leaving my more than adequate coverage alone. Instead I have to increase my deductible and my co-pay while reducing my coverage because I can’t afford the new standards. I don’t know how much you need to survive, but my wife and I are skating on the thin edge and this insurance thing just migh push us over the edge.

          • I don’t know what a reasonable amount is just yet. I can’t get on the website.

          • And I should add that my current Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield premiums went up 5% in July and we have been informed that they’ll go up another 16.5% in January.

  7. A number of observations from my Australian perspective:

    Completely apart from the question of what is/isn’t done by the public system, I found it strange that in the US, employers often pay insurance rather than people buying it themselves. Surely this makes for complications when people leave jobs and get other ones, or if both parents work for an employer whose insurance is supposed to cover the whole family.

    It wasn’t until the current US situation was in the global news that I ever heard of “medical bankruptcy”.

    It seems like medical care costs more in the US regardless of how it is paid for. I wonder how that is being addressed.

    It’s good to see the US getting public health care up to the standards of the rest of the developed world. How to do it is never an easy question, especially with such a large country, and I sympathise with those who argue the states should manage some things rather than the nation.

    • It sure does cause complications! We do have something called COBRA which generously allows you to keep your insurance for (I think) 6 months after you leave a job for 5x the original cost.

      Unless you are super-rich in the US, you are just one crazy disease away from poverty.

    • @ Eric

      Completely apart from the question of what is/isn’t done by the public system, I found it strange that in the US, employers often pay insurance rather than people buying it themselves. Surely this makes for complications when people leave jobs and get other ones, or if both parents work for an employer whose insurance is supposed to cover the whole family.

      Employers/companies providing health coverage for employees came on the scene in the 40s-50s when the Gov’mnt had wage and price controls in place–which began with our entrance into WWII and included rationing. Businesses couldn’t increase wages to attract employees, but the Federal government allowed companies to offer “benefits”, and health benefits were institutionalized into the corporate work place.

      Self-employed folks, such as I, buy our own health policies and pay through the nose for it or buy only catastrophic (“major medical”) health insurance with very high deductibles. Last year we dropped ours because we just couldn’t afford even the major med. plan.

      The entire system is a shambles–unless your in the upper tier of wage earners or independently wealthy.

      The ACA is not so much a reforming of health care as what it is health insurance reform. ACA doesn’t go near the distance, but it may be a good push in the right direction.

      One major problem which the ACA doesn’t address or help is the fact that too much money is spent on administrative cost–25-30% in the US–and the greatest reason for that inordinate cost is the fact that there are so many “payers” (insurance companies)–THOUSANDS. Canada and western European countries and other developed nations with universal health care for their citizens spend <10% on administrative cost by drastically reducing the number of payers. Some of those countries spend 5% or less.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The entire system is a shambles–unless your in the upper tier of wage earners or independently wealthy.

        Or you’re a Government bureaucrat whose union benefits include effectively free medical care for life.

        “There’s nothing wrong with the system. It works great for me!”

        “I Got Mine,
        I Got Mine,
        I Don’t Want a Thing to Change
        Now that I Got Mine!”
        – Glenn Frye

        • And that to, exactly.

          Congress should be subject to the same laws that they pass for everyone else. Eliminate the platinum plated gold health care and retirement programs that Congress votes for themselves and I guarantee that Social Security and the health care system will get a lot of fixin’.

        • HUG,

          I don’t know what Congress has. I know what’s available to my husband, a mid-level “government bureaucrat.” We pay about $250 per month for reasonably good insurance, but it’s “second tier” – if we wanted more, we’d have to pay more. It ain’t free, and we still have co-pays. I realize that’s a “bargain” in today’s market, and I’d be happy for everyone to have that particular advantage, even if it meant raising my taxes.

          I appreciate your views, and in this case you’re making an unwarranted generalization.

          I think we have a long way to go to achieve what the rest of the “developed world” has in terms of paying for health care. Tom/Volkmar is right in that, first of all, we have to reduce the number of payers, and I would also say make them/it not-for-profit. The doctor for whom I transcribe, who has been doctoring for 40 years, says “single payer.”

          Dana

    • How does Australia do it? Is the insurance market subsidized by the government? Is medical coverage limited in any way? How are costs handled? Does the govt mandate pricing? How are physicians paid?

      There are so many aspects that are never spoken about in the USA concerning the other “enlightened” countries of the world. One thing to remember is that, as a people, Americans HATE being forced to do ANYTHING and, by and large, they have a mistrust of government. The no longer see it as a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as one famous president once said because they are so removed from the problems of every day life I let my political leanings show through there…and make careers out of manipulating the system to retain power. Guess

      • In Australia health care is funded through the taxation system with a basic benefit. We have a two-tier system I suppose you could say – there is the publicly funded hospital system and private hospitals. In the public system costs are covered and there’s no choice of doctors, etc. In the private system a co-payment is required, which is funded through an individual’s insurer and you get a choice of doctors, hospitals, etc. Visits to GP’s can be bulk-billed requiring no co-payment if you attend such a practice, otherwise a co-payment is required to cover practice costs elsewhere. It’s not a perfect system, but at least people can get to see a doctor and receive treatment.

        • So, I STILL do not understand…are you saying that under the public plan you just walk in and get treated without paying a thing? Do you pay a monthly tax?

          And guess what? ANYONE can see a doctor in the USA as well, but it is only by going to the hospital emergency room and waiting for hours to be seen. Hospitals are required by law to treat ALL who ask for service and, often, when the patient is billed the bill goes unpaid so the hospital has to factor in the deficit when setting other costs.

          • ER doctors are legally obliged to STABILISE, not treat. There is a massive difference.

          • Final Anonymous says:

            Can a person get free cancer treatment in the emergency room? What about treatments for chronic conditions, like inhalers for asthma management? I was under the impression those were not treated for nonpayors in the US system.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > Can a person get free cancer treatment in the emergency room?

            They will attempt to stabilize your (keep you from dying). Which can still be very expensive. If you are not critical – please just go die quietly.

            > What about treatments for chronic conditions, like inhalers for asthma management?

            An asthma attack will be treated in ER, nothing from chronic conditions. If you can’t afford inhalers for your asthmatic child, tough luck.

            And the ER still sends you a bill, which then goes to a collections agency [as you have no money to pay] and your financial life is effectively destroyed; good luck getting a loan for a used car so you can get to that job [which has no benefits] in a city with lousy public transportation. But your poverty is a result of being so lazy, so this system is not unjust. You should have pulled yourself up by your bootstraps – like a real red-blooded American.

            > I was under the impression those were not treated for nonpayors in the US system.

            They are not treated. The only recourse they have is very scarce free or volunteer clinics, and likely no medication.

      • Medicare in Australia covers all Aust residents. It is payed for by the government (hence taxpayers). Public hospitals cover all necessary treatment and emergencies at no cost to the patient. The public system is generally stretched.

        Additionally, many people pay for private health cover. This means you can have surgery in a private hospital (your own room instead of a ward, probably better staff/patient ratio). Private cover also pays for all or some of all sorts of things – dental, physio, optical, elective surgery etc – there are a range of plans and you choose the one you want. Typical cost is $50-80 a week for a family.

        I don’t have private cover so I just payed $300 to go to the dentist (checkup, cleaning, a filling). There is a push to get Medicare to cover dental as well.
        I thankfully haven’t needed any other health care lately (just the GP, which is free in some cases).

        I was glad to be under my parents’ plan 12 years ago – I had wisdom teeth out with general anaesthetic, which may not have happened in the public system. My friends collectively have had very good & very bad experiences in both public & private hospitals.

        I don’t know all of the money flows in the system. Doctors are well-paid but not usually millionaires and they work very hard. The govt subsidises drugs, not sure how much.

        A few facts & figures here: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129544658

  8. Ali Griffiths says:

    Kruger: ‘the best solution to the healthcare problem might just be in the free market. A free market solution would do the very thing that is needed most, it would lower prices. And that is the best way to make healthcare accessible to the poor without sacrificing access or quality.’

    Doesn’t a free market operate within the USA already? Or have I got that wrong?

    Anyway, give an example where the free market operates and the poor benefit – are there any?

    The people pushing the line for a free market are the ones who profit from it either in terms of direct financial gain or paying less taxes. Of course they are going to support a system that benefits them! Plenty of people claiming to be Christian are in this category.

    CM is correct – those of us living outside of the US find the US system utterly mystifying. We wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Whatever the problems of national healthcare (and there are plenty) it is still a better option than the alternative. I suspect that UK politicians, many of whom are amongst the most privileged in society, would have pushed for complete privatisation by now if we didn’t have the example of the US to show us what that looks like so we have a lot to thank you for in this respect.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >Doesn’t a free market operate within the USA already? Or have I got that wrong?

      This is a poisoned question; which is not meant to attack you. But the term “free market” is an explosive. People from various political groups will read that to mean entirely different things, and shout over each other about the answer.

      There is a “market” for insurance in the USA, yes.

      Is it “free”???? What does that mean? What defines a “free” market? I don’t know.

      IMNSHO, talking about a “free market” is tantamount to discussing unicorns and leprechauns. It is entirely a thing of myth and vision. Markets are about power, and therefore not about freedom.

      The government in the USA interferes-with/regulates [pick your term] with the insurance market; so it is not “free” from government involvement [and the government spends no small mount of $$$ to do this]. Is that effective? Sadly, that is not what the discussion on this side of the pond has been about.

    • Lots of great journalism has been done about this lately and the conclusions are basically: 1. Hospitals charge whatever they feel like charging. 2. They won’t tell you what they are going to charge until you are discharged. So, no, there is no free market in health care in the US. But even if hospital abuses were curtailed, no one shops around for the best price for an emergency appendectomy.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Even Ayn Rand got on Medicare and Social Security. The Only Truly Rational Mind Who Ever Existed had quite an elaborate Objectivist rationalization for doing so. Boiled down to “I’m getting Mine back from the Moochers, Takers, and Statists.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Anyway, give an example where the free market operates and the poor benefit – are there any?

      Our local newspaper is Firmly Committed to The Free Market Economy(TM) against all forms of Statism.

      I’d feel a little better about them if they didn’t quote Ayn Rand chapter-and-verse and hold up Victorian Industrial England as the Type Example of the Perfect Free Market Economy.

    • 1) No, the US market has not been “free” since at least the early 20th century. There is a significant difference between “free market” (which has five requirements to be true) and an “unregulated market”. I often hear people confuse these two, as if getting government out of (any given) sector would make it a free market.

      2) Not really. Capitalism is biased toward capital. If you don’t pay, you don’t play.

      3) America claims that we have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, and we rightly socialize those things necessary to the aforementioned. Certainly I have never heard one American complain about the public water supply.

      In the interest of fair disclosure, I have an MBA in health-sector management from a top-ten program in the US, and it always frustrates me the amount of ignorance I see when this topic comes up. Most folks can’t tell you what kind of system we had prior to PPACA (hint: Medicare/caid was the largest payor), they can’t tell you the major pieces of the US healthcare system, or the complex economy formulae that describe the relationship between the payor and the consumer and the tension inherent in the system. There is a good reason that the US pays double per capita in healthcare from the next most expensive country and only sees a mixed health-outcome ranking in the mid teens.

  9. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > Kruger keeps using the tag “socialist” as a way of invoking a scary label for his readers.

    Of course, because we [Socialists, like myself] are *E*V*I*L* incarnate, we eat babies and hate God. That is why in most “socialist” European nations people live longer, healthier lives, and report higher levels of general happiness. Successful socialist societies cause people to take their eye off the ball – *the afterlife* – and focus on issues in the hear and now like the welfare of their neighbor. Evil, we are so very evil.

    And there are certainly *failed* “Socialist” nations. As there are many classifications of failed, or failing, nations. The interesting aspects of those failures, of any classification, lay beneath the classifications. But stamping them “Socialist” gets one off the hook from providing a more precise data-driven explanation.

    > Let me put my conservative political cards on the table and say that I rather like what Margaret Thatcher
    > once said, that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

    And here we go. And so a politician with a flair for rhetoric defines a political/economic theory.

    No need to mention the fact that French public-transportation actually earns money [real profit from services, not just "revenue"] verses the amount of coin America pours [essentially non-stop] into its ‘privatized’ transportation system [lets talk about airlines, the gobs of money which prop up the "deregulated" airline industry]. Or how study after study after study clearly illuminates that we spend more health-care dollars per patient with worse results than our competitors.

    But call it “Socialist” so you can throw that all under the rug, no explanation required; clearly it cannot be true. Governments are incompetent, they just are [except the military of course].

    I could site government projects that finish ahead of schedule and under-budget, but they would get dismissed as anomalies [unless they are military projects, them obviously...].

    > That is why in order to share wealth you have to create wealth. You need economic freedoms and
    > economic mobility to foster economic growth in order to sustain Government services in growing
    > populations.

    And next to nobody over here in the beret-wearing Socialist camp disagrees with the above statement [sorry, everybody has a few crazies, our camp included],.

    Somehow in much of the American mind Communist and Socialist became conflated. Both theories, and most modern economic theories, arose to prominence at the same time, in the tumult of epic-fail that was post World War I Europe. And labels got tossed around and mixed-up like meats in a stew. In America there seems to be only boot-strap Americanism, and that stew; which is an improvised world-view [in an ungenerous moment I'd use the word "illiterate"].

    [Aside: some of the most difficult problems arise from not growing, but declining, populations. Witness the rural, and more and more the suburban, USA. There are some really hard math problems in those places].

    Looking at wages and income in the United States… it is a fair question to ask if striping away employee’s power really fosters economic growth; providing them with less assurance, less recourse, and more dependence on the good-will of their employer – so that they have more freedom and are inclined to take more risks – dismiss me as evil, but *that* math is nuts.

    • Well articulated, Adam.

      I’m married to a Canadian. My father was Canadian. I know for a fact that “Canada Care” (originally titled Medicare, btw) for and away excels over our for profit system. Americans are slow to understand how not having to worry about financial fall out from major medical problems is incalculably FREEING.

  10. “I’m not buying into this Government vs. the People thing. Government is the representatives that the people elect.”

    You may not buy it, but I think that is one of the core issues underneath the opposition, and is something Wright probably cannot fully appreciate. This is seen, by many, as vast government overreach, and at a time of things like the NSA in the headlines, it just fosters more of that suspicion.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Two words: TEA. PARTY.

      • Suspicion of the government is much older than the Tea Party. In fact, such views led to the initial “Tea Party” in Boston, even the Bill of Rights.

        Again, Pres. Obama and the overall government have handled several things recently that has allowed for the continuing of such views.

        A new poll says that over 1/2 of the US population does not trust Pres. Obama. That is much bigger than just the Tea Party.

    • TOTALLY agree!! The government (actually, ONE political party) is now telling me that the insurance that I pay around $1000 a month for is now insufficient and that I now MUST buy their “approved” insurance standards which raises my rates to over $1500 a month, raise my deductible by half, increases my co-pay AND reduces my coverage to boot!

      And Europeans are wondering what the fuss is about? Either they have not been listening or their government approved media have not been reporting enough!

  11. Anonymously Yours says:

    I reiterate: Once government pays the poor an income, food stamps, public housing, public schooling, Social Security, and now the upcoming national health care…why should I give to the poor?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > why should I give to the poor?

      Because you as an individual can recognize specific and local needs, perhaps even those of individuals. Something a system cannot do; for all the good a system can do, it can never to that.

      And perhaps you can “give less to the poor”. Perhaps it is more effective to become more engaged with your civil and civic community. Your time and attention may be worth more than your dollars.

    • I don’t understand this way of thinking. If I am a citizen of a representative democracy, and I elect officials who think that society should take care of its poor, and I pay my taxes to support that agenda, I am giving to the poor. That’s me, and you, and all of us.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        I’ve talked to some people specifically about this [as I too do not get this way of thinking].

        At least for the tiny number of people I have talked to in trying to get my head around this – it is *extremely* disturbing for some that the support is not *explicitly* Christian. That the support is “secular” removes its moral gravity [in their view]. I do not agree with this view; for me suffering is suffering ['deserved' is a separate question], and hunger is hunger, and the alleviation of suffering or hunger a moral good – period – *BUT* I can at least see the horizon line of the opposing view, the fear of a detachment of morality from individual action??? At least that is how I have been able to parse it. [Partly my disagreement with this view is, no doubt, that I do *not* see the actions of the civil state to be a detachment from individual action - but that correlates to my belief that *we* *are* *the* *civil* *state*, which is quite far from the view of many].

        I cannot speak for the author of the comment, but that has been one perspective I have learned from anecdotal discussion.

        Perhaps an underlying question is to what degree are “we” a “we”; as a city, country, state, nation… are we a “community” and to what degree are we “individuals” [quite a separate concept from "citizens"]? I think the scent of this disagreement floats around many of these issues.

      • While we certainly elect the leaders of the government, we are not the government. In the US, the government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, but it is a category mistake (though a useful polemical device) to say that the governed and the government are the same.

        The key issue is that law is ultimately a coercive tool: while my own moral choice MAY agree with what the law demands, it also may differ: I am compelled to follow the law regardless, or to face punishment of some kind.

        This is not an argument for or against a specific policy, but rather more of a warning that we should be very careful about trying to force what seems moral to us on our fellow citizens. The religious right has been demonstrating the folly of this path for years. It’s no more palatable (or “moral”) when it comes from the center or left.

        None of the sides in the current debate in the US have put forth arguments compelling enough to sway those who disagree with them. Of course, if my point of view is the “moral” one, I am relieved of having to make any better arguments, because I am right and you are, by default, wrong. It makes everything a lot easier.

        • I think you are misunderstanding me. I was simply pointing out that “government” is not an entity separated from us that imposes its will on us. We get what we choose. I pay taxes for a thousand things which I object to. The answer is not to accuse those who support those things as “imposing their morality” on me — it is to elect people that I think have a better program.

    • If the poor are well looked after, why do you feel bad about not giving to them? Do they exist so that you can feel better about yourself by donating to charity?

      Which would you prefer, a system with more people who are hungry, but with more opportunity for you to donate to charity, or a system with less hunger and more opportunity for you to donate?

      • Anonymously Yours says:

        I would prefer a system in which I am not forced to donate via taxes. Also, as an aside, I think a lot of people do not realize that most government welfare programs forbid donating cash to welfare recipients. If the agency finds out the recipient has received cash, his or her Medicaid or SNAP or SSI may be reduced or even cancelled outright. I know because one of my best friends has received Medicaid, SNAP, and SSI simultaneously for years. If I give her cash, she would be breaking the law by not reporting it, and if she does report it, it would be a waste of my money to give it to her. Why give her the money if her benefits are reduced?

        • Anonymously Yours says:

          An occupational program for her disability buys her bus tickets so she can go to college. She even has to report that as “in kind” income.

  12. Anybody who doesn’t know Robert Frost from Robert Burns may be confused about a few other things as well.

  13. Steve Newell says:

    The US health care system is a dysfunctional miss. We spend more money, as a percentage of GDP, than other developed countries will poorer outcomes. We have a system that is employers provide the majority of our citizens with healthcare insurance if they chose to provide this benefit, but they are not required to, until ACA. We have neither a “free market” system or a “socialized healthcare” system; we have a mess.

    Throwing out the “socialist” card is not useful in having a serious discussion. Historically, Church bodies created healthcare systems to provide care for all, including the poor. Now, it is just a business and many hospitals what once served the poor in urban and rural areas are being closed since they are not “profitable”. What is the role of the Church today?

    I have yet to find someone from Canada, the UK, Europe, etc. who would trade their system for ours.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > The US health care system is a dysfunctional miss.

      +1

      > We spend more money, as a percentage of GDP, than other developed countries will poorer outcomes.

      Truth.

      > We have neither a “free market” system or a “socialized healthcare” system; we have a mess.

      +1

      > Throwing out the “socialist” card is not useful in having a serious discussion.

      +1

      > Historically, Church bodies created healthcare systems to provide care for all, including the poor.
      > Now, it is just a business and many hospitals what once served the poor in urban and rural areas
      > are being closed since they are not “profitable”.

      There are legitimate and illegitimate reasons for this. One thing – technology has made health-care require much more infrastructure. Building infrastructure requires financing,… it is complicated.

      > What is the role of the Church today?

      A serious question.

      > I have yet to find someone from Canada, the UK, Europe, etc. who would trade their system for ours.

      Ditto. Get sick or injured, go to the doctor, done. So simple, so elegant. So much *less* mechanics.

      Leave your job, start your own company, employ people, enrich your community – do not worry about health care. Beautiful. And liberating.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      What is the role of the Church today?

      Defending the Faith LOUD AND SHRILL against Evolution, Abortion, Homosexuality, Gubmint Schools, and all those Heretics. And selling all that Fire Insurance with free complementary Rapture Boarding Passes. After all, It’s All Gonna Burn(TM).

      • You sum everything up so well.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I speak from experience. I fell through the cracks during my time in-country in the Evangelical Circus. That was back during The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians For Nuclear War.

  14. The crux of the matter in the U.S. seems to be tied to low voter turnout. When barely half the voting-age population bothers to vote, a very large disconnect occurs between much of the citizenry and government, because they do not view it as their government, are not invested in the outcomes of elections, and — by not participating — feel free to criticize any and all politicians. That this amounts to cutting off their noses to spite their faces seems to elude them. And many who do participate, as far back as George Wallace’s third-party candidacy, feel there is “not a dime’s worth of difference” between the two major political parties.

    I’m not saying I’m for compulsory voting, but this chart is quite revealing.

    It’s even lower in local elections. Here in Georgia, between 5 and 20% of the population vote in municipal and county elections.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Something from the GURPS Cyberpunk sourcebook:

      In a democracy, when only one percent of the population votes, half a percent is The Majority. And any hate group can muster half a percent. Majority Rule!

    • I don’t care about no gubmint! Just gimme my stuff!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        AND KEEP YOUR GUBMINT HANDS OFF *MY* MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY!

        (I have heard that For Real.)

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    When it comes to the American evangelical opposition to universal healthcare, global evangelicals look at them with a mix of disbelief and disgust. … We are mystified as to how can good Christian men and women oppose – in some cases in the name of religion- providing healthcare for its citizens.

    Because in America, Christianity is nothing more than Young Earth Creationism, Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist, God Hates Fags, Woman, Submit, and Die, Heretic.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Because in America, Christianity is nothing more than Young Earth Creationism

      I don’t get your point in this post. This is clearly NOT true – as even this website is proof.

      The comment is about “American evangelical” specifically, not Christianity in the USA [let us not say "America"].

      This seems like little more than angry conflation. I am OK with anger, I am very angry. But more conflation is not a path out of this thicket. You should swing at a more clearly defined target.

      • That is a common tone for him. Just ignore and let him go.

      • Adam, in an earlier post you had argued that for all intents and purposes Evangelical = Fundamentalism from an outsiders perspective. HUG is just extending that and saying that from an outsiders perspective American Christianity = Fundamentalism.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > HUG is just extending that and saying that from an outsiders
          > perspective American Christianity = Fundamentalism

          Yes, I missed the “from an outsiders perspective”. He may be correct, I hope he is not. But given the given, I will concede the point with the “outsiders perspective” caveat.

      • Adam, if I could quote Mr. Spock:

        “Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively and with undue emotion. However, what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it.”

        Yes, we make allowances for Headless Unicorn Guy around here.

  16. I am all for health insurance for everyone, bar none. 100.00000% of everyone. I am also for some government involvement in the healthcare industry. My concerns are these:
    Health insurance doesn’t guarantee access to healthcare. (It’s free, but we ain’t got none!)
    Pure undiluted capitalism is guaranteed to leave out a very large number of people.
    Government central planners can’t possibly know what is good for everyone, especially central planners in one city of one state of a nation of 310 million people. The Soviet Union is an excellent example of this. So what is the correct balance? I don’t think there is a fixed balance; it changes all the time.
    The healthcare industry (like all industries) lobbies lawmakers incessantly and gives millions of dollars to politicians of both parties here in the US. The politicians will then do more or less what the industries want them to do. The ACA was written by healthcare industry people; elected officials had almost no idea what was in it. Why bother to vote when your elected official will do what the industries want anyway?
    You don’t believe me? Watch what the elected people do, and not what they say. R’s and D’s are essentially the same with a few cosmetic differences.
    Finally, a bit of my Christian viewpoint. I want less central government and less capitalistic interference in the healthcare arena. The State (nation, government, polity) already interferes far too much in my daily life. This is guaranteed to lead to abuse. We need to be free to follow Jesus; to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit; to help the poor as we are able to. Secular capitalism and central government central planning both work against this.

    • “The ACA was written by healthcare industry people; elected officials had almost no idea what was in it. Why bother to vote when your elected official will do what the industries want anyway?”

      Uh…one PARTY passed the law. If it were truly a bipartisan effort the furor MIGHT be a bit more muted. I really don’t want to get into this here today, but the way it was passed has a LOT to do with its opposition.

  17. Well, I don’t necessarily disagree with Wright, but the one thing I do find sort of frustrating in these conversations is that people tend to use the terms “healthcare” and “health insurance” interchangeably. Obamacare is essentially only addressing the insurance side of the question and not doing very much on the actual care side. So, yes, I suppose for someone without access to affordable health insurance before, it’s hard to say Obamacare is negative. Will it do much to actually improve the actual healthcare most Americans receive? It’s probably going to be a while before we can answer that question.

    Personally, I do lean more toward the libertarian side on things. I think for the most part, better outcomes can be achieved through people making their own decision rather than having decisions made for them. However, this hasn’t been the case with the healthcare people receive in a long time. Most people don’t know what anything related to going to a doctor or hospital actually costs. That’s the problem with third party payer systems. If I knew that an extra CT scan was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, I might hold off on it. But because I don’t know the cost, I just say, “what the heck! Run me through the machine!”

    • “…one thing I do find sort of frustrating in these conversations is that people tend to use the terms ‘healthcare’ and ‘health insurance’ interchangeably. Obamacare is essentially only addressing the insurance side of the question…”

      Phil, you have pointed out the glaring fact that has been missing so far from this post and discussion! Everyone seems to equate opposition to Obamacare with opposition to Healthcare for all. I oppose Obamacare because Obamacare sucks, not because I oppose healthcare for the disadvantaged and the sick. I don’t think anyone would deny that we need healthcare reform in this country but Obamacare makes things worse not better. Before Obamacare I couldn’t afford health insurance. Now it is actually going to cost me more but if I don’t buy it I get fined. But on the plus side, the insurance I am being forced to buy will cover me for birth control pills and maternity care even though I am a 50 year old male. Many thanks to Congressional Dems and Pres Obummer for the help this provides me!

      And as to the poster’s statement that “Because to outsiders the anti-Obamacare thing looks like ‘civil religion,’ a syncretistic concoction of Christian teaching, Republican partisanship, capitalistic-worship, and social darwinianism with its mantra of the survival of the fittest.” That is just ignorantly attributing evil motivation to brothers and sisters in Christ. Talk about judgmental. Sheesh!

      • The Wall St Journal called ACA a law that could only be made by Americans — a cobbled together piece of legislation made by opposing parties that can’t decide if govt is a problem or a solution. I agree. In my view it doesn’t go far enough and the only sane, cost effective system is single-payer. But how do you think that would fly today? So we do what we can. ACA at least is a step, flawed as it may be.

        What a messy world we live in.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          >So we do what we can. ACA at least is a step, flawed as it may be.

          +1

          > What a messy world we live in.

          Indeed. Messy, and loud.

        • Obamacare is a big step… just in the wrong direction. But I’m not really a fan of single payer either. I was a big fan of HR2520. This was a more evolved version of the healthcare plan first proposed by Sen. McCain back when he was running for Pres. Among other good reforms It proposed giving a “voucher” of sorts to every American so they could go out and purchase their own insurance. Give everyone control of their allocated tax dollars and let them shop around for what fits their self/family best. It doesn’t get any better than that.

          • As long as other countries with some version of single payer/nationalized healthcare can show lower costs and better outcomes than the U.S. — which is an incontrovertible fact — I will be of the opinion that it is a better way to go than any “free market” solution.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Once you’ve made the decision to try some sort of health care plan, it would have made a lot more sense to just take the existing Medicare and refine and expand it to cover more and more Americans.

          FDR’s New Deal programs (including Social Security) were based on existing state-level programs that had a proven track record. In contrast, LBJ’s Great Society programs seem to have been made up ex nihilo by committees of theoreticians and activists too young to remember the last time Old Mistakes looked like Fresh New Ideas — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    • Not true. Part of PPACA conditions funding to meeting fairly strict clinical quality outcomes. I am not swinging at you, but as one who has a pretty good education in Health Care, I do get frustrated by the significant lack of knowledge surrounding PPACA. The theory underlying PPACA (which comes from the conservative Chicago School of economics) is quality = outcomes/costs. Everyone is so wrapped up in the insurance side of the law that the other parts get completely ignored, at least by the media, which is apparently where most people get their info. There are a few really good and easy to understand books on the law; a good start to understand what it actually mandates.

      • You’re right on that point, I suppose, I actually do know somewhat about the quality aims – the patient surveys and the ACOs and whatnot. I suppose those things are good. What I was thinking of was more related to the predicted shortages of primary care physicians. It just goes to reason that if we have a huge influx of new patients into the system, but keep the number of doctors the same, the system is going to be stressed.

        • The predicted shortage is real – but is based on the fact that PCPs are vanishing (less money), while sustainable healthcare models (and PPACA) require PCPs as the “gatekeepers” who direct to specialists. There will never be a shortage of specialists – the challenge and money are still stratospheric – but unless more medical students go the PCP route, the system will be strained.

  18. As someone who is against Obamacare, and in favor of true single payer, I’d say the first opposition to the ACA startswith the fact that many very intelligent people, on both sides of the aisle, think it won’t do anything like guarantee health care for all our citizens . And so it seems like government intervention for governments sake, rather than for the good of anyone involved. (the fact that Congress exempts itself shows the utter lack of compassion involved in its pasaing).

    There are several options that are both more likely to work and less damaging to various aspects of the economy if you prefer the conservative options, and single payer is the only universal health coverage that earns the name if you prefer the liberal option. We ended up with neither.

    • The way it is being implemented it has the effect of lowering the standard of living for the middle class (I have to spend $500 a month MORE on insurance) while forcing young and healthy people to spend money on something they don’t want, nor do they feel they NEED it.

      The end result: More people in doctors’ offices but no increase in the number of doctors. In fact many doctors are retiring, or going to the concierge model of practice rather than accepting government approved medical pricing.

      So, what are we going to do? Import more physicians from third world countries? Certainly European doctors are not going to immigrate. even so, will THAT even relieve the crush? Unfortunately,we’ll see…

    • Agree. In fact, the underlying theory hinges upon a single-payor system. Not including this really hurt the potential outcomes of PPACA.

  19. I believe people have a right to good health care, just not American style health care. Not the kind of health care where people get every test they want, everyone has the right to sue, everyone has a right to file a complaint, everyone has the right to get hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in the last year of life after refusing proper care for decades prior.

    Of course they have a right to care, but not the right to all the ridiculous aspects of American health care that few other developed countries have. We need more reforms than just coverage. Health care is now 18% of our economy and growing without restraint.

  20. I think the whole healthcare debate would be a lot healthier if we stopped trying to claim that our particular viewpoint is somehow a more moral choice than our opponent’s. Certainly, from a Christian perspective, we are called and commanded to care for the poor, the sick and the needy. But the question of how we do this is not primarily a moral one, but a pragmatic one, and one that concerns not only Christians, but just about everyone. There are just about as many views on how to do this as there are people.

    If we decided that we should go to a European-style, government run, single-payer system, we should not view this as some kind of sign of moral maturity or superiority (Bishop Wright and Mike Bird both offer versions of this argument and thereby seriously undermine the case they are advancing). We would be forcing into that system people whose own moral sense conflicts with ours. It might be the right choice, it might be the most efficient and fair way to organize things, but we are surrendering our individual moral choices to those of the ones who write and administer the laws. We will do this under penalty of the law. It may be what’s needed, but it isn’t us being moral.

    If we do believe that it is our morality that impels us to support and push for health care (or whatever our cause might be), we must be prepared for the time when those we deem immoral gain the majority in the government and impose their own version of morality on us. The religious right has never learned this lesson, and of all the opponents of health care, finds the taste of their own medicine most bitter.

    I certainly don’t have the answer on what form the American healthcare system should take, other than to note that, for all the good intentions of its authors, the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act doesn’t appear to be it. But it is a failure of process and design, not of morality. And the same can be said of American healthcare as it was before the passage of the ACA.

  21. David Cornwell says:

    Rather than saying the same thing many others are saying, I invite you to consider the experience of a physician and the dismay he has felt when the poor need care. Doing a Google search use the following search term:

    “Doc Recalls Case That Left Him ‘Appalled”

  22. Randy Thompson says:

    I do not understand why Conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act seems to reflect a greater concern for a particular economic system than it does for the common good. I don’t understand why the Defense Department always (!) is worthy of receiving more money than it even wants, according to conservatives (except for Libertarians), but health care is “socialism” and therefore demonic. No one in our country wants pure “socialism” a la Marx, and having a health care system like that of Canada or Europe is not socialism in that sense at all. There is still plenty of room for people to make a legal buck however they want. The European and Canadian health care systems seem to be a way for people, through their elected government, to provide the common good of heath care.

    If “socialism” means a simple, shared way of providing health care for everyone, what’s wrong with it?

    Why, why, why is big government bad, according to conservatives, but monopolistic big (!) business is good? Why is a big government, where we vote for the leadership, bad, and big business, which is run for the (major) stock holders, good?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I don’t understand why the Defense Department always (!) is worthy of receiving more money than it
      > even wants

      Yep.

      > No one in our country wants pure “socialism” a la Marx,

      Correct, or nearly nobody anyway (not me, certainly). And his ultimate system was not Socialism in any form meant by any western Socialist party – his system was Communism. Quite a distinct thing. He had a whole scheme of how it would come about naturally; almost nobody accepts that end of this theories [and I doubt they ever did, but they were terribly cruelly useful as ideological tools].

      > a health care system like that of Canada or Europe is not socialism in that sense at all

      True.

      >If “socialism” means a simple, shared way of providing health care for everyone, what’s wrong with it?

      Nothing.

      > Why, why, why is big government bad, according to conservatives, but monopolistic big (!) business is good?

      A question I ask myself several time every day. Yes, the NSA is evil, but I can elect people to defund it, change its policies, etc… i can lobby. I cannot do a darn thing about Google or any number of corporations that do creepy things [at least - I cannot without the proxy fist of my elected government].

      > Why is a big government, where we vote for the leadership, bad, and big business, which is run for
      > the (major) stock holders, good?

      You got me. I continually flumoxed by the lack of an answer for this question.

    • Why, why, why is big government bad, according to conservatives, but monopolistic big (!) business is good? Why is a big government, where we vote for the leadership, bad, and big business, which is run for the (major) stock holders, good?

      Well, corporations come and go… The government is much harder to get rid of. Once a law is on the books, there’s a lot of inertia keeping it there. Corporations don’t have standing armies. No one can force me to shop at Wal-Mart, use Google, or eat at McDonald’s. The government through the threat of force can make me do all sorts of things. It doesn’t really have anything to do with one being good or evil. I just see that individuals have potentially more immediate control over what corporations do than what governments do.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Well, corporations come and go…

        Maybe, maybe not. Some have been around longer than many governments.

        > The government is much harder to get rid of. Once a law is on the books, there’s
        > a lot of inertia keeping it there.

        Laws get repealed and overturned on a regular basis.

        > Corporations don’t have standing armies.

        MMmmm, maybe. Some corporations *are* standing armies.

        > No one can force me to shop at Wal-Mart, use Google, or eat at McDonald’s.

        This is a fallacy. They most certainly can. There is no guarantee of competitive solutions, they simply close all the other stores – and Walmart is your option [unless you have the resources to drive across town, at significant expense]. This freedom-of-the-marketplace is entirely fictional; corporations have a myriad ways of exercising coercive force.

        • This is a fallacy. They most certainly can. There is no guarantee of competitive solutions, they simply close all the other stores – and Walmart is your option [unless you have the resources to drive across town, at significant expense]. This freedom-of-the-marketplace is entirely fictional; corporations have a myriad ways of exercising coercive force.

          Sorry, don’t buy it… There may be some regions certain stores are the only game in town, but it’s not the norm. Even if I think of the area where my parents live, which is relatively rural, I can think of at least half a dozen grocery stores or more in a 5-mile radius of their house.

          And, actually, the areas in the US that seem to have the hardest time with having access to grocery stores are inner city areas, and in many of those areas I’m sure the residents would love for Wal-Mart to move in.

          I don’t think corporations are inherently benevolent or anything like that, but neither is the government. At least as consumers we do have the option to vote with our wallets. There are some instances, of course, where monopolies do develop, of course. One reason for many monopolies, though, is that corporate interests are in bed with the government in one way or another. So, I guess the government can be the cause and solution to monopolies.

        • Even though I’m no fan of big business, I do see the strength of Phil’s argument. Government can use force. Most businesses must please the customer and can’t force anything. Even if evil Wal-Mart is the only store within a 100 miles I can still buy from their competition and get it delivered to my door via that there new fangled interweb.

    • Randy,

      Some good points. Liberals/Progressives love big government. Conservatives love big business. It is sad that most Dem&GOP voters are blind to the fact that these are one and the same people. Where does big government go to get appointees and czars? Big business & banking. Where does big business get its best lobbyists and board members? Big government. The fix is in because it’s many of the same people just bouncing back and forth between the two. That is one of the many reasons I’m not progressive or conservative but libertarian.

    • If nationalized health care is socialism, so is the public water supply. Stop communist faucets!

      • I don’t think public utilities are necessarily a good comparison. For one thing, they’re all local, and they’re all metered. You pay for what you use, not what your neighbor down the street uses. There’s shared cost in all the infrastructure, sure. But as far the product itself, it’s pretty much a capitalist enterprise.

  23. Aidan Clevinger says:

    What if I advocate free market solutions because I think, on the whole, that they will render the most actual benefit to the poor? Is that an option?

    Moreover, one can be against the ACA and still be in favor of the government supplying or subsidizing healthcare for the poor. For some people, the issue isn’t, “Don’t let the free loaders have insurance!” Instead, the issue is, “This plan is inefficient and a terrible way to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish.” I don’t see why good intentions should make one immune from rational criticism.

    • +1000

    • Josh in FW says:

      “one can be against the ACA and still be in favor of the government supplying or subsidizing healthcare for the poor. For some people, the issue isn’t, “Don’t let the free loaders have insurance!” Instead, the issue is, “This plan is inefficient and a terrible way to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish.””

      I am of this type. There are multiple ways to provide healthcare and reform health insurance that would be more effective and efficient than the ACA.

      When it comes to legislation and regulation complexity benefits the elite in the society and hurts the masses, because it requires either the hiring of a professional to help you navigate the system or it requires a significant expenditure of time and higher than average level of intelligence.

    • You certainly have that right. However, the data we have does not support your hypothesis. Although to be fair, there is a large degree of speculation, since the US hasn’t had a free-market in health care for over 100 years.

  24. Christiane says:

    a little history for them what didn’t know about how the ‘health insurance industry’ got its start:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QkgUkM0o6Q

  25. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > What if I advocate free market solutions because I think, on the whole, that they will render the most
    > actual benefit to the poor? Is that an option?

    It is certainly an option. IMO, it is a conclusion and position in ***desperate*** need of evidence.

    And IMNSHO, we circle around again to the “Free” in phrase “Free Market”, and what that is, besides a vague smoky vision. I’ve read Adam Smith, et al. What that means does not get any clearer.

    > What if I advocate free market solutions because I think, on the whole, that they will render the most actual
    > benefit to the poor? Is that an option?

    Certainly. I support the ACA, but it is a complicated *HACK*. The conservatives hate it for good reason – it is a stepping stone to a real solution. It was the only politically palatable [and that barely] thing that could be done. Politics is the “art of the possible”.

    > I don’t see why good intentions should make one immune from rational criticism.

    They do not. I haven’t seen much here that I would interpret as saying they do.

    But criticism without proposal of concrete and **possible** and *******SPECIFIC******* alternatives … that eventually does get tuned out.

    • No alternatives??? Check out HR2520

      https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr2520

      Just because MSNBC and CNN didn’t report it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        And it also never made it out of committee, hence “art of the possible”.

        I am aware of that bill. Honestly, it contains many clauses like “A State shall not determine premium or cost sharing amounts for health insurance coverage offered through the State Exchange.”, and in a long way around does not promise anything will be available – it is based on the premise that options will just-appear, somehow at a lower cost than currently.

        It’s guaranteed access for individuals: “The State Exchange shall ensure that, with respect to health insurance coverage offered through the Exchange, all eligible individuals are able to enroll in the coverage of their choice provided that such individuals agree to make applicable premium and cost sharing payments.”

        That is a “guarantee” is completely disingenuous.

        Aside: I have no problem with *mandating* health-care coverage for *everyone*, as *everyone* is going to use it. And the uninsured impose costs on everyone else. Opt-ing out of health care is itself disingenuous.

        The bills version of oversight and regulation: “Such board shall include representation of health insurance issuers and State officials but shall be independently controlled. The State Exchange shall ensure that risk-adjustment implemented under this subparagraph shall be based on a blend of patient diagnoses and estimated costs.”

        Yikes; that is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

        • You are demonstrating much of its superiority to the ACA. HR2520 is a trim 248 pages and has a reasonable chance of being understood and modified prior to passage and implementation. ACA is 20,000 pages of BS gobbledygoogk that no one can understand or foresee the fallout from. Case in point are the thousands that are now receiving insurance cancellation notices despite reassurances to the contrary. OMG, it hasn’t even gone into effect yet! What is around the corner with this thing?

          And as to “possible.” Well, that can easily change in one election cycle.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            ACA is 20,000 pages of BS gobbledygoogk that no one can understand or foresee the fallout from.

            Another jobs program for Lawyers and Bureaucrats.

          • This was shelved for a reason – economic modeling. The most conservative estimates under the old system put health care costs at 100% of GDP by 2030. HR2520 steepened that curve significantly. The models might be wrong, but no one wants to be the guy who pushed through legislation that fails only to have the media uncover the unfortunate fact that several mathematical models predicted catastrophic failure.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And IMNSHO, we circle around again to the “Free” in phrase “Free Market”, and what that is, besides a vague smoky vision. I’ve read Adam Smith, et al. What that means does not get any clearer.

      Read Ayn Rand for the Theory and Charles Dickens for the Results.

      • Aidan Clevinger says:

        And the massive increase in living conditions over the past two hundred years as another example of the results. I’m not saying sweatshops and coal mines didn’t happen. I’m just saying that isn’t the whole story. Especially when one considers that monopolistic abuses generally happen *because of* government protection.

        • “…monopolistic abuses generally happen *because of* government protection.”

          Very true. Government regulation of industry often happens because a big business or business consortium lobbies the government to create rules that will protect them and edge out their up-and-coming competition. Then it is sold to us under the guise that it is for our “protection.”

          The whole Free Market discussion is an interesting one. There is a need for regulation but today, more often than not, it is just another tool wielded by the power brokers.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Especially when one considers that monopolistic abuses generally happen *because of* government protection.

          That is an immense revision of history; primarily it discounts the decades of the labor movement that essentially created the western middle-class, which was intensely and violently opposed by big business.

          • Welcome to the new Gilded Age.

          • Historically you have a point. I have always been a fan of TR the Trust Buster and the much needed reforms he initiated. However, 100 years later things are different. I have been involved with state government for a number of years and have on numerous occasions seen groups or individual businesses lobby the government for required implementation of regulations and/or licenses that they just happen to already comply with but that will be prohibitively expensive for any new completion. The new regulation does very little for the consumer but it GREATLY benefits the existing business. It is basically government protection of monopolies.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            In the last Gilded Age (when the gap between rich and poor was almost as much as today), said Captains of Industry would even light their cigars with $100 bills ($1500 in today’s money) Just Because They Could.

  26. We are discussing the ideology of a single payer plan… or in this case a governement run plan. Understood many have different opinions about it. As costs for health care are going through the roof we need something to bring things under control. Couple that with all the frivilous lawsuits, people going to the hospital for the sniffles, overmedicating on anti-biotics, or on every drug in the world to make one’s life better and we have a system that is in need of reform.

    But the implementation of a plan we are currently now experiencing is causing many unexpected indirect consequences. Forget the terrible rollout…. it will be fixed eventually. What is more concerning is the dropping of coverage for thousands of people who once had insurance, the marked increase in premiums, the behavior of employers to reduce employees to part time to get around regulation, the dis-interest of youth (over 26) who would rather pay the fine than pay the premium, the inability for the exchanges to atract healthy people to the plans to offset those who are sick, the use of the IRS to enforce the plans…. the list goes on and on.

    It was a partisan plan forced into place and needs to be shaped by both parties and morphed into something truly usable. Who will sign up the poor? How will one really get subsidies? Why are single payers more inclined to get subsidies than whole families? How to I trust a governent to be punctual with my medical decisions when they have a proven track record of slothful response time and an i don’t care attitude.

    My thoughts….

    • I’m not opposed to the idea of a single payer health administered by the government and paid for through taxation. But based on the limited information and understanding that I have about the current health care reform, it seems like it has hurt me.

      The company that I work for claims that we have a Cadillac health care plan, and that since these are being phased out by the reform, our insurance company has had to make adjustments to the plan to make it conform to the AHA. This involves raising our co-payment by nearly 100% in both the primary care and specialist categories, and increasing our deductible by 100% (following two previous years in which the deductible was raised 100% each year). In addition, the company tells us that to make the plan conform, it’s possible that the deductibles and co-payments may be raised the same way again in 2015.

      My wife and I are not wealthy people, and we struggle to get by; in addition, we are both in our fifties with significant health problems, especially my wife. The magnitude of the raises in deductibles and co-payments that we’re seeing is crushing for us. The above average health care plan that my company offered at a very low price was one of the few positive things we had in our financial reality.

      Now that is being taken away. The insurance company’s claim that the AHA is responsible for the changes may be false; in which case, nevertheless, the insurance company is using the AHA as cover to raise deductibles and co-payments in an inordinate way.

      Will the Administration stop such gouging? I doubt it. The Administration worked hand-in-glove with the insurance companies to pass the AHA legislation, promising millions of new customers to the insurance companies; from what I understand, the law is so badly written that it’s hard to say what its legal implication are for the insured or the insurers.

      It appears as if the legislation is ironically resulting in a Wild West health insurance universe. I for one can’t help but feel that the painful, damaging gouging I’m experiencing is something that neither the Obama Administration nor the health insurance companies give a hoot about.

      I wonder if my wife and I will survive this loss, and it scares me.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’m not getting spammed by Hot Investment Tips regarding health insurance companies, if that means anything. Just usually when something like this goes down, I get snowed under with Hot Tips to invest in the industry (in this case, health insurance firms) with promises that the Dividends will Come In In Buckets(TM).

  27. This ill conceived scheme will cost us more and give us a lot less.

    And it is ALREADY rife with scandal and fraud and corruption. In case you haven’t heard the tapes of the ACA Navigators telling people to lie as to whether or not they smoke, because if they don’t their premiums will be higher. Not to mention that some of the ACA navigators are convicted felons who you will be giving your personal information to. The Administration is alright (when questioned about it) with ex-felons receiving this information.

    Not to mention that the Congress and Senate and President are exempt and don’t have to sign up for this stuff.

    They didn’t even take open bids for the train wreck website! That’s cronyism and govt. at work.

    ‘Single payer’ would be even worse.

    Some mindless (many are) bureaucrat will decide if you should get a procedure…or not. God help you if you are old…or maybe even if you happen to be registered to vote under the ‘wrong party’. (IRS scandal, etc.)

    No system is perfect…but the left has a penchant for destroying a good system (not perfect) for a utopian, feel good scheme which always ends causing more harm than good.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >Some mindless (many are) bureaucrat will decide if you should get a procedure…or not.

      Which is *exactly* what happens today, with privatized insurance. Only instead of the decision being made via public policy it is made by an insurance company. This is a straw man argument, as procedures get denied by bureaucrats *currently*. Only I do not get to vote for them, or their bosses.

      • Exactly. “Usual and customary” gets defined by the health insurance companies, whether it be the cost of the procedure or the need for the procedure itself. And physicians don’t often have a clue if something will be covered unless it’s very routine, prepare to be shocked at the bill.

        Meanwhile, the fear of malpractice lawsuits (covered by a different insurance) is driving physicians to order tests and procedures that the health insurance companies may or may not pay for. As they wish.

  28. Like many programs, the motivation for the ACA is a benevolent one, or at least can be attributed as such.

    My objection to it is the same as my objection to any federal-level legislation that carries with it a notion of comprehensiveness — and is based on Joseph Tainter’s 4 rules, spelled out in his excellent work, “The Collapse of Complex Societies”:

    1. Human societies are problem solving organizations.
    2. Socio-political systems require energy for maintenance.
    3. Increasing complexity carries with it increased costs per capita.
    4. Investment in socio-political complexity often reaches a point of declining marginal returns.

    I believe we have reached the point of declining (probably negative) marginal returns on our investments in socio-political complexity – the ACA being just one of myriad examples.

    And like the empires in Tainter’s examples (Rome, Mayan, Meso-American, etc.), we too are entering an inflection point that will be marked by future generations as the beginning of the end of the American Empire.

    If this is the case, and at the quite bearable risk of being labeled an overly zealous apocalypticalist, I prefer to concentrate my energy on what Alasdair MacIntyre described in “After Virtue” as “the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life can be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.”

    If that makes me an ant-progressive, so be it.

  29. Medicare in Canada was started by a Christian. His name is Tommy Douglas. He was a Baptist pastor who was discouraged by what he saw in the depression so started helping people. Eventually he was elected as Premier of Saskatchewan.

    I had always assumed he was a run of the mill Marxist. The one day my wife and I were at a coffee shop and we got talking to an elderly couple. The man mentioned that he was a friend of Tommy Douglas and had worked with him for years. He then told me how Douglas’ activism sprang from his Christian faith, and what he had seen during the depression. It challenged my categories somewhat!