Why Does Healthcare Cost So Much?

Mark 5:25-29
My prologue: Some things never change on their own. This book was written in the 90’s. This chapter concerns the rising cost of health care and the crisis of the uninsured. Two decades later and government has still not solved the problem.
Dr. Payne: Great confusion exists among Christians concerning the Biblical economics of healthcare. While Christians should be able to discern truth from falsehood with the light of Scripture, five hurdles to proper discernment exist.

First, the prior chapter elucidated the false efficacy of medical care and will not be repeated here except to state that the efficacy of modern medicine is overstated. (See Blog Post from May 23rd, “Physician, Heal Thyself”)

Second, the confusion between charity care and government provision of care. Certain things are clear from Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-26, Luke 10:25-37, and Matthew 5:43-48. God’s people are to perform acts of charity for both the less fortunate and our enemies. However, this does not equal the government providing such care. Charity is voluntary or else it is NOT charity. Furthermore, the Bible does not grant the state the role of providing welfare. This responsibility belongs to individuals, the family, and the church.

Third, Christians have fallen prey to the arguments for a right to healthcare. John Warwick Montgomery’s book on a Biblical understanding of rights explains that any claim to a right represents an appeal for an authority to serve justice. A right to healthcare is ultimately an appeal to the state to use force in protecting that right when it goes beyond an appeal to someone else’s conscience. Use of force means that the rights of others are seized and controlled by the state for the provision of healthcare. A quote from the New England Journal of Medicine December2, 1971 (Sade, Robert M. “Medical Care as a Right: A Refutation”) states “Thus, since the concept of medical care as the right of the patient entails the use or threat of violence against physicians, that concept is anti-mind-therefore, anti-life, and therefore, immoral.”
Fourth, the nature of insurance serves as another obstacle to a proper view of healthcare provision. Other forms of insurance such as home insurance have identifiable, objective claims whereas medicine often consists of complex subjectivities driven by extensive workups guided by those who benefit from the expenditures, patients and care providers. Insurance allows the cost of healthcare to balloon out of control.

Finally, ignoring morality prevents a clear view of health care economics. When the connections between good health and morality are forgotten, health worsens and costs increase. Insurance companies are not allowed to lower prices for moral behavior, thus forcing all to bear the burden of immorality’s health costs. Instead, by Christians joining efforts and resources, they may share the burdens of health costs among each other for far less expense. In this model, immorality and its consequences do not have to be subsidized by others.

At the end of the day, individuals must choose how to spend their resources. They must choose between various needs such as food, cars, homes, and other things. Medical care is another choice that competes with these needs. Viewing healthcare as a universal right has led to an attempt at “full” coverage for all. The obstacles are contributors to the rising cost of healthcare today. For Christians to depart from the failing system we have today, we have to recognize these fallacies and seek out Biblical answers.

From Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine by Franklin E. Payne, Jr., M.D. Covenant Books

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