On Healthcare:

Why We Should Provide Healthcare to Every Human Being Without Charge

I want to start with the moral aspects of why we should give healthcare to everyone without charge. A lot of the people who advocate for the current healthcare system in the United States, where people’s health is directly correlated with their ability to pay for it, claim to be Christians so I will start there.

Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Great Physician by many Christian believers and it’s no wonder since Jesus healed whoever came to him with an illness. He healed a lot of people and he never asked for anything in return from them. It was a free gift. He didn’t ask them how wealthy they were or how good they were. He didn’t blame them for being sick by saying they should have lived a healthier life. He healed them because he saw that they were sick. He healed them because he felt compassion for them and felt a great desire to help. This should be the essence of what medicine is: a desire to help and I think it still is for most of the care providers. But the profit motive for insurance companies under the current system causes them to be absolutely rapacious.

Our healthcare system has become antithetical to compassion and the desire to help that Jesus showed us. It has become filled with greed and bureaucracy so that, despite the honest effort of medical professionals to help their patients, the insurance companies who handle the payment take as much money as they can and authorize as little care as possible.

This reminds me of another story about Jesus. Jesus loved everyone but one thing he hated was greed. One of the very first things Jesus did as a public figure was to overturn the tables of money changers in the Temple, who were using their power as religious officials to force people to pay more to exchange their money to Temple money and to force them to buy animals that were certified blemish-free by the priests. They were ripping off the people who came to worship. Just as these money changers were gatekeepers of the people coming to worship, insurance companies are gatekeepers of the people going to their doctor and getting the care they need. Jesus, quite rightfully, called the money changers’ racket a “den of thieves” and I think the same applies to insurance companies.

Before Jesus left the Earth, he told his followers to follow his example. His example was to heal the sick without charge and the chastise those who would impede people from getting the help they needed. So Christians who would take away even the meager health insurance offered now to the people of the United States of America are not at all following in Jesus’ example. Jesus would give healthcare freely to all, not take it away from millions of people so that the rich can have more money in the form of giant tax breaks.

Now, I would like to make the argument for universal healthcare from a public health standpoint. Let’s start by talking about the spread of infectious disease. No matter how clean you are or how many times you wash your hands, we have all been sick with an infectious disease. All you have to do is go look at the weekly influenza maps on the CDC’s website to see how an infectious disease like the flu spreads throughout the country. Every year, the flu spreads throughout the entire country and even the entire world. It starts in a few places and then spreads to the general communities and it just continues to spread until the end of flu season. It happens every single year without fail.

For most of us, the flu is just an annoying inconvenience but what if what was spreading far and wide was a deadly disease, maybe something like ebola. Ebola can be a deadly disease and, without proper medical treatment, it is almost certainly deadly. What if all that stood between that first ebola patient and safety for the rest of the community was for that person to be able to go to the doctor for care no matter how poor they were? What if it was something worse than ebola but something that could be cured at the hospital easily and all that might stop a person from getting treatment was money? Would you want that kind of disease spreading around your area when this kind of epidemic could be easily prevented if we provided free healthcare to the people here?

If everyone, regardless of how much money they had, were able to go to the hospital and get treatment, the spread of any such deadly disease might be kept to only a few people. This means that making sure a poor person can get healthcare when they need it might save you, your children, and everyone you love from becoming ill. Whereas, if people don’t have the money to go to the doctor, they are likely to continue going about their business in the community, exposing everyone in their path to this deadly disease. Do you really want that? Isn’t it worth investing in the health of our communities?

Now I would like to make a fiscal argument for why we should provide every human being with healthcare. First off, people who are sick often can’t go to work and, if they do, they are likely to get their coworkers sick along with them, reducing the productivity of the entire team. If people can’t afford to go to the doctor and can’t afford to take any sick days, they are going to expose many more people to their illness and, even if it isn’t an infectious disease, sick people are less efficient workers.

The healthier people are, the more effective they are at work and the more money they make for their companies and even themselves. Some people who are unemployed now are sick with chronic health conditions that could be improved with adequate healthcare. There will surely be some people who will always be too sick to work but a lot of people just need some decent healthcare to become productive members of society. We should at least give people the chance to get as healthy as they can be medically and see what they can do. If more people become healthy enough to work, that will result in more productivity in our society and more taxes flowing into the government so that we can afford to pay for things like universal healthcare. It’s an investment in the future prosperity of our entire country. What could possibly make more fiscal sense than that? All you have to do is be a little patient and wait for your investment in your fellow human being to pay off.

The next question people usually have is how we are going to pay for such a thing as universal healthcare. Well, the United States is the richest country in the history of the entire world and a lot of much smaller, poorer countries already have universal healthcare. The problem we have is in our priorities. We would rather invest in weapons than in the welfare of our own people. We would rather invest in welfare for billionaires than in healthcare for everyone. We would rather strip our country bare than ask our wealthy to share. All the while, the corporate welfare and huge tax breaks we give to our rich don’t result in jobs that can sustain us but serve as just another nail in the coffin of the American dream. We can ask the rich to pay more because they have benefitted from doing business here in the richest country in the world and, in the end, if we have healthcare and are able to work more, we will be able to buy more, which will enrich the rich even more. The right way to benefit the rich financially is to make sure that more people are able to be potential consumers. Think of it as an investment in the consumer, rather than just thinking of it as having to waste money paying taxes.

Finally, I will leave you with the words of Jesus:

Matthew 25:31–46 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”