My previous post on my experience of the National Health Service elicited a large number of comments–both pro and con.
I think some of the people were missing the point. Because I said my experience of national health care in Britain was more positive than negative, and that in principle I have no objection to a state organized health insurance program does not mean that I favor Obama care, that I think it’s okay for state medicine to make me fund abortion and euthanasia or that I’m basically giving a thumbs up to Obamacare. I’m not. From what I know about the legislation it is overblown, expensive, and has immorality built into it in many ways. Most of all I’m worried about the implications of the law and the effect it will have on all the rest of our freedoms. I distrust big government and this seems like a classic big government solution.
Here’s the solution as I see it: G.K.Chesterton said every argument is a theological argument. Therefore, let’s start at beginning–with personal virtue. The whole concept of health care comes from the Christian idea of healing, and the whole idea of healing comes from the Christian concept of the human person: each individual is a unique creation in the image of God. Each human person is an eternal soul–an immortal diamond, and therefore each person’s life is precious. Each person should be treated with dignity and care from the moment of conception to natural death.
The second principle is that this care is the responsibility of each person for his brother and sister. Health care begins at home and continues in the local community and in the church. This is why the first hospitals were founded by churches and religious orders. This is why so many hospitals still have a religious affiliation. Health care is about care for individual patients–real people caring for real people. While this seems obvious, too much of our health care is run like a factory. Patients are treated like biological machines that need to be fixed with a combination of surgery and chemicals.
The third principle is that all those involved in health care should see their work as a vocation of service to God and their brothers and sisters. What would our health care system be like if the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals saw their work as part of the healing profession and part of their vocation was to provide the best medicines possible at the lowest possible cost for as many people as possible? What if all our doctors and nurses considered it their primary vocation to provide the best health care for as many people as possible at the lowest possible cost? What if they all lived on teachers’ salaries? What if the colleges who trained doctors did so at as small a cost as possible? What if people (shock horror!!) decided that every aspect of the health care profession was a non profit operation?Don’t misunderstand–I know that a good number of health care professionals do still consider their work a vocation and work long hard hours and often do much work pro bono. Good for them.
However, the fact remains that the health care industry (whether it is private or public) is an enormous industry and that many people make a lot of money out of it. They make a lot of money at the cost of human lives and happiness for while they provide better health and healing, they also do so at a huge cost to all of us. Governments may throw endless cash at the problem, but the problem will only be corrected by individual virtue–individuals deciding that they wish to serve as compassionate healers rather than “health care professionals” who’s main concern is the health of their bank accounts.
Think how different it would be if we organized health insurance for ourselves at the local level. What if we had “Health Care Districts” like we have school districts, and the local government or state government administered health insurance through the tax system? What if hospitals remained independent and provided the health care and billed the local government insurer? What if the local government had powers to restrain costs and industry watch dogs ensured that waste, corruption and graft was eliminated?
But of course for that to work the government officials themselves would have to be virtuous.
So the whole thing comes down to personal virtue, and where does one acquire the skill set to be personally virtuous? Only through the detailed, direct and clear teaching of religious virtue, for it is only the Christian religion which has the thoroughgoing foundational principles to define and defend right moral behavior.
The bottom line: You want the health care system to work? Get people back to church.