Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lance's Thoughts on Health Care for All - from the View Point of Values and Practicality: A Religious Socialist's View

I believe that health care is a human right, and that as a society we should provide health care for all, regardless of ability to pay. Health care should be totally de-commodified. I believe this fundamentally because of my Orthodox Christian values, based on the life of Jesus, the teaching of the Bible, and of the Holy Fathers.

But I also believe that it is much more practical and efficient economically to have a single payer system. For those who still cling to Capitalism, which in my view, is now a body riddled with cancer, you should embrace universal health care coverage administered by the government. It will relieve the burden on business and from your capitalistic view point, let the capitalistic tiger out of the cage.

A fair and equitable plan for health care or at least health insurance, would be to have a single payer. At very least health insurance should not be a for profit enterprise with shareholders. Switzerland provides universal coverage with private insurers who are non-profit. But single payer is best, in my view. Eliminate the middle man, have one system with low overhead that is efficient.

Right wingers often traffic in anectdotes of individual horror stories of other health care systems (usually Canada or England); but the empirical evidence is that most other industrial countries do a much better job over all in delivering health care, and certainly in providing health insurance, than we do. And we have some pretty damn gruesome horror stories here in America, too.

Though no system is perfect, many other societies have better health care, lower costs, spend a much lower percentage of their GDP on health carer than we do and they cover everyone. Plus we are getting our asses kicked economically because our companies have the burden of health insurance that companies in other advanced countries do not have. Health care costs are going up all over the world, and every system is challenged- but we are doing nothing.

There are other problems with health care besides insurance- reimbursement rates, costs of medicines, tort reform, administrative processes and costs, healthy life styles, all have to be addressed. But it is the nature of the health insurance industry that is ruining people financially, making people file bankruptcy, and killing people, about 40,000 per year.

Although I believe it makes practical economic sense to provide universal health with a single payer, it is my values that most strongly influence my views.

Health care is a human right- that is not only a universal humanistic value but it reflects the praxis of Holy Orthodox Christian empires of the past, and is the teaching of the Catholic Church as well.

As Patriarch Bartholomew stated recently, the Byzantines invented hospitals and their mission was to provide health care for all. Holy Orthodox Kings and Queens subsidized social services in the Byzantine Empire and in Holy Rus' in part with tax derived money.

Perhaps come Christians should ask themselves if their values are influence by the gospel or Ayn Rand.

"When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and HEALED ALL THE SICK." - Matthew 8:16 NIV.

Jesus did not ask to see anyone's insurance card.


“It is clear that we owe the Byzantines the development of the modern institutions we call hospitals...But what may be more important, we owe to them the view that every member of society from the greatest to the least deserve the best quality health care at that time. This is obviously relevant today, and as the United States debates the best way to provide health care for its citizens we hope and pray that the Byzantine Orthodox approach provides a model…”

- Patriarch Bartholomew I, November 3, 2009 at Georgetown University