While all the attention this week was on social security and the State of the Union Address, there were a few articles on healthcare that were just barely under the radar. On January 31, an article in the LA Times (“Health Care Overhaul is Quietly Underway” registration required
) revealed that the Bush administration is farther along in its plans to relieve employers of the burdens of health insurance costs than it is in its plans to privatize social security.
The plan appears to be that individuals would purchase catastrophic healthcare policies at their own expense. The tax code already includes a tax deferred savings plan to put aside the deductibles for these policies for self-employed individuals up to certain limits, and this would be expanded to include everyone once it replaced employer-provided health care. On a purely economic basis, this hurts all employees currently under employer provided plans because corporations can negotiate better group rates than any individual can. The corporations are unlikely to pay their employees more to cover these costs – those savings will be passed on to the shareholders.
The impact would have to be devastating to families with children, for whom health insurance is always more expensive. As a self-employed person, I buy my own health insurance and have seen rates on my individual policy rise 60% in the last three years. I can’t imagine how most families would be able afford health coverage for their children. According to last fall’s study by Glen Stassen of the Fuller Theological Seminary, abortions increased during the first Bush term in part due to the inability to provide for the child in a bad economy. What does Bush think is going to happen to the abortion rate when even more people can’t provide health coverage for that child?
Just a few days after the LA Times article, Harvard Medical School published a study on February 2 (it’s researcher calls it “frightening”) that shows that half of all personal bankruptcies in the US are the result of medical illnesses, affecting approximately 2 million Americans, including 700,000 children, annually. “Even middle class insured families often fall prey to financial catastrophe when sick” according to the report.
That the administration’s health care plans are un-Christian is so obvious that I shouldn’t need to explain it to anyone. It violates every principle of social and economic justice in the Bible; it not only does not help the poor, but hurts the poor and seeks to increase their ranks and make the middle class poor as well. It also hurts the economy in a society like ours where it is consumers who generate economic growth. To sacrifice the economic growth of the country in order to hurt the poor and middle class is pure contempt and it is evil. This is not entirely surprising since the “ownership society” is based on principles taught by Aristotle and not by Jesus. But I for one am outraged at the conservative Christian groups like Jim Dobson’s Focus on Family that claim to be for family values but have voiced no opposition to these plans. I would never do as they do and label someone as un-Christian because Jesus told us not to, but I will say that these groups and their followers are being led away by evil, and they will destroy the very families they claim to support.
In another article I read this week, the Baptist Center for Ethics (www.ethicsdaily.com) reported some interesting election statistics. Among people who attend church more than once a week, 64% voted for Bush, and among people who earn more than $200,000/ year, 64% voted for Bush. Once again we see the truth in John Kenneth Galbraith’s quote “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”