Me receiving IVIG at home in 2012. I’ve been part of The Least of These for over five years now.
Despite (or maybe IN SPITE of) a number of Christians publically proclaiming the greatness of Ayn Rand, (I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan), I’ve been struggling for the last few years with how so many are so anti-ACA. I’m not talking about those who have issues with the contraception mandate, either. Or the ones who are struggling with newly-raised insurance premiums. No,I mean the ones who are against it because it will lead to dependency on government, as if that is the real public health crisis, right up there with heroin or crystal meth addiction.
How telling that a recent CNN poll finds Americans evenly split on the current Obamacare requirement that people who forgo coverage pay into the system through a penalty, also known as the “individual mandate.” Fifty percent oppose removing the current requirement; 48 percent favor removing it. Factor in the poll’s margin of error, and you have a tie game.
It’s a classic dilemma; a tough call. It frames the never-resolved question that goes to the heart of our society’s idea of itself as a moral, Christian nation, or at least a Christian-influenced one. What obligation do we have to our fellow citizens — the vast majority of whom we do not know and never will?
Turning to health care, let’s think about a healthy young American who works out, eats the most nutritious foods, and has not darkened a doctor’s door for years. At first glance, it’s not his problem if some people are old and in need of medical services, or if some don’t “take care of themselves” and find themselves sick much of the time.
But, again, there’s more to the story. If Mr. Young and Healthy does end up sick, or gets injured while pursuing his vigorous lifestyle — a distinct possibility on his next mountain-biking adventure — he will probably land in a hospital emergency room. And he will receive care whether he has the means to pay or not. Someone is covering that cost for him: the insured patients who essentially subsidize E.R. care for the uninsured and, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians, E.R. doctors themselves.
So it goes. Those of us who are healthy are prone to exaggerate our invulnerability to illness and injury and the degree to which our virtue has contributed to our good health. We ignore the fact that sooner or later, we all get sick; we all find ourselves in need.
We can see our mutual obligation in at least two ways. One is idealistic: the view that we have a moral obligation to those who are less fortunate than we are. We might see this as a religious obligation. Jesus and the prophets made few things plainer, after all, than the moral imperative to be generous, and to care for those Jesus called the “least of these” — the people who are most in need.
Yet, I already know what the responses will be: Christian charity is not government largesse, and Christians can and will take care of each other once the government takes its paws out of our wallets. Or, this isn’t heaven and illness is par for the course on Earth; it’s an opportunity to deepen your walk with Christ. Or… something. Like I said, I’m struggling with understanding.
At least Ayn Rand was real clear with her whys.