David Holford

I’ve Experienced Where Obamacare is Headed

Surprise! Single-payer healthcare is here. No, no, you say, it’s just a really badly run government insurance system which no one can join that has forced the cancellation thousands of existing policies. But I assure you, this is just a transition point.

Oh no! you say, if that’s the case, then surely this marks the beginning of the end of all things good and beautiful. Surely it heralds the end of the world or at least the new rise of Communism.

Well, no. The sky is not, in fact, falling. Are things going to be very different than what Americans are used to experiencing in the health care system? Most certainly. Is it going to be worse for a lot of people? Almost certainly. Is it going to be better for a lot of people? Absolutely.

The United States stands alone in the developed world in only providing health care access to the very poorest and the elderly. This is something about which most conservatives are very proud. Most of them resent providing access to the poor through Medicaid, though since a sizable number of them are over 65, they are very protective of Medicare.

When the US finally converts to universal access, it will be following the lead of those repressive totalitarian regimes in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Norway… well, the list is endless.

Having lived for 12 years in one of these, perhaps I can enlighten you as to what you can expect in your future health care system. There’s the good and the bad. I’m just going to leave out the hysteria.

First of all, you will get used to it. Your children will think any other system unimaginable. I do not know a single conservative Christian (theologically, politically, or both) in the UK – and I know a lot of them – who would consider a different system as either ethically or  morally plausible.  To them, it is just as much a part of the social order as Social Security and Medicare are in the United States.

Doctors will still be the wealthiest professionals in society. Don’t you worry, they will take care of themselves. That part of capitalism will remain.

There will be the utterly shocking experience in the first couple of years of going into the GP clinic or the ER and not having to bring all sorts of paperwork with you and spending ages wrangling over whether your insurance covers this or that or how much you will have to cough up to pay the balance before you can leave. You will just see the doctor and go. I know everyone will hate that.

Of course this going to be bad for the business of bankruptcy lawyers. Other than credit cards, medical bills are most frequent debts that drive people to insolvency.

And it is going to be really bad for the bean counters at insurance companies. Administrative time and costs to doctors will plummet and they will actually spend time fixing people. But lots of people who work the other end of the phone line to deny or limit coverage will need to find jobs in the larger government bureaucracy. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

There will still be private health insurance, just like there is in the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia… you know the list. The rich and the well-employed will still get to jump the line. There will be doctors and hospitals that will only take private insurance. In that sense, the good ol’ American way will remain intact.  It’s just that fewer companies and individuals will bother with it.

Sounds like the perfect world, right? Not exactly.

There will be rationing. If everyone can get access to the full range of medical care, then everyone except the rich will have to share. The government, in response to the taxpayer, will want to limit the amount it spends. Healthy voters aren’t motivated to make sure all the sick get the same treatment.

This means there will simply be a shortage of available beds, doctors and nurses. If everybody suddenly gets the healthcare they need, there simply will not be enough of it to go around. Some people will have to suffer. Until now, conservatives have been happy for the uninsured to be those people.

There won’t be rationing of primary care. That will be easy enough to handle. Every developed country in the world has demonstrated that. It’s when the need goes beyond a doctor visit and a prescription. Suddenly everyone who needs to see an oncologist will be able to do so. Everyone who needs to see an orthopedic surgeon will be able to do so. Everyone who needs cardiac care will be able to get it. There’s just not enough of it to go around, so people have to wait. In some cases the wait will be deadly. Lack of access has always been deadly, it’s just that it will no longer be a certain group of people who can’t afford insurance that die.

That’s where it will clash with our American ideals. In our system, the richer you are, the more you deserve to live. And if you have a good job that carries good insurance you deserve to live. People who want to live need to get a good job. If you don’t have a good job that comes with all the expected benefits, then clearly you aren’t working hard enough and you don’t deserve the nice things in life – like life.

Life and decent health are not entitlements (unless you are over 65). You have to earn them. That’s the American way. If you didn’t get a good enough job, too bad. It’s survival of the fittest. Just like in the Bible, right? I know Jesus said that somewhere

7 thoughts on “I’ve Experienced Where Obamacare is Headed

  1. Daniel Herndon

    It’s good to hear the views of someone who is not only a critical thinker, but also has experienced both sides. I agree with much of this blog.

    Now that I am done applauding let me pose some points as devil’s advocate:

    1. Yes, Jesus did say that, if you count what was said by way of Paul in II Thessalonians 3 when Paul wrote “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” At this point, let’s just call that food for thought.

    2. You argue that Americans are against socialized healthcare except when for the elderly, it’s all the sudden OK. I’m glad you didn’t miss this fact like most conservatives do, but as a fiscal conservative, my ideal is to NOT have Medicare or Medicaid either. At least, as long as there is the Church.

    3. Is there any way to avoid the rich getting more than the poor? No. Money ends up only being a tool. Wealth is going to exist regardless of what happens with money and wealthy people will always end up with more.

    4. How can you be sure the sky is not falling? Any proof on this one?

    1. David Holford

      Thank you for replying, Daniel. In reply to your points:

      1. I am happy to count what Paul says under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as equal to Jesus saying it. I think it gets paraphrased and expanded a bit, like you have just done. Paul said if anyone will not work, he shouldn’t eat. He didn’t say if anyone cannot work, either because he is unable or work is unavailable, that he should not eat. But let’s look at the broader context of both 2 Thessalonians and the Pauline corpus.

      Paul is not writing to a church in which the individual members are part of a modern capitalist society and where fellowship (koinonia) means the pot luck once a month after the Sunday morning service. While the Thessalonians do not appear to be living like the early church in Jerusalem – having all things in common – but they had a family model and did share as each had need. For example, they completely supported their own widows and orphans, After all, when people came to Christ, they usually lost their own family networks.

      Finally, I think we have to a great tendency in Western Protestantism to interpret the Gospels in terms of Paul, but not interpret Paul in terms of the Gospels. We want to say, “Sure, Jesus said all this nicey nicey stuff, but if you read Paul, he tells you what it really matters.” Paul here is instructing a local Christian community how to behave within its fellowship. Jesus is often painting a much broader picture.

      There is also a question of whether supporting someone with food is the same as letting them die from lack of health care. It could be argued that this is apples and oranges. Or apples and penicillin.

      2. Whether it is an ideal for the Church to provide all medical care is an interesting question. Certainly throughout the ages, the Church has been the leader in this area and took up the role when no one else would. Are you saying the Church should take care of everyone’s medical costs? Or just that of Christians? And since the Church is very divided, should it be incumbent upon Christians to make sure they are in a big enough church to support with with the group plan?

      3. As i noted, even in single-payer systems, the rich jump the queue. There is nothing wrong with wealth and nothing wrong with there being rich and poor and a few middle class in between.

      4. The only proof I have that the sky is not falling is that it hasn’t fallen in every other developed country that has introduced universal health care. Given that this includes every other developed country, that’s a pretty good track record.

      1. Daniel Herndon

        1. Good. I would agree that it is only a topic to consider in the broader conversation.

        2. What I am saying is that the church should invest it’s resources in serving the community instead of seating the community on Sunday. This means serving the poor, orphans, widows and those that have needs – even those that don’t agree with their Faith. Many hospitals have been started by the Church and have in the past provided charitable service to those that can’t afford it in their community.

        3. My only point here is that the moral dilemma that people are attempting to overcome doesn’t actually go away at all. The terrain just changes. Maybe it’s it a little better or a little worse, but mostly it’s just different.

        4. I agree with your point on Universal Healthcare. I guess what I didn’t realize is that the stability of the sky is directly related to the implementation of a universal healthcare system.

        1. Larry Henry

          Daniel I have been postulating Point # 2 since i was a young adult but it is more important to build bigger and bigger buildings instead of starting another church like they did in my youth and buy more airtime and more satellites…and …and…and…

          1. Daniel Herndon

            Larry, churches are full of people listening to the Word, ultimately just deceiving themselves. True religion is to tend to widows and orphans.

        2. David Holford

          Now that we ave resolved point 1, we also couldn’t agree more on point 2. Whether the ideal could ever be achieved, I doubt.

          3. Of course as one of the fully employed, fully uninsured, I’d say that the terrain could change for the better. I have no problem with the rich having greater access. I have a problem with the lack of access to many.

          4. According to many conservative pundits, the stability of the sky is directly dependent upon avoiding universal health care.

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