A Human Right to Health Care


July 26, 2009 by D Stack

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Matthew 25:14-46 (New American Bible translation)

I tend to avoid religious justification for how I feel politicians should behave. My religious faith informs the way I vote but it is not a requirement that anyone whom I vote for shares my faith, so long as they do not hinder it.

However, it has been driving me somewhat bonkers over the past few weeks, listening to many of the same people who proclaim the United States to be a “Christian nation” speak out against universal health care.

The above quote is a fairly well known passage in the Bible. However I’d suggest reading it again, especially if you consider the United States to be a Christian nation. It is not a separation of individuals this Biblical passage speaks of, but a separation of nations. “[A]ll the nations will be assembled before him.”  “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?”  “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

So explain this to me. The same people whose Christian faith dictates that they post the Ten Commandments in courthouses, that the Pledge of Allegiance must be to a nation “under God”, that is against allowing marriage between consenting adults of the same gender, can’t be bothered to follow through with this decree for nations to care for the ill? Have they just now discovered a separation between church and state?

Shifting gears a bit, this is not the reason I believe Congress should use when considering universal health care. It informs my motivations. And if they are Christian it should inform theirs as well. But when you come down to it, how is it health care is not considered a human right? I’m fine with honest disagreement on the ideal solution. But at the end of a day, it seems a tragedy if one person lacks adequate health care. As reported by the AP, medical bills trigger half of all bankruptcies. Is it right for a person or family’s fortune to be wiped out due to illness? And while I am fine with private enterprise’s participation in a health care program, at the end of the day the government must be involved, at the very least in the form of subsidies, if any program is to be truly universal.

And universal it should be. Is that socialism? Maybe. But if so we as a nation are fine with socialism in a lot of other areas. I’m not seeing senators shouting that we must disband police forces and fire departments. There does not seem to be a massive effort to make every road in the United States privately built and maintained and paid for exclusively by user tolls. And I doubt you’d find a majority in favor of dismantling public schools. Of course not. These are things we view as essential needs. As is health care.

Just as a snide closing remark… It is worth noting that among the “least brothers” are in all probability illegal immigrants.


10 thoughts on “A Human Right to Health Care

  1. Matt says:

    We already have universal health care. It’s our law that no sick person can be turned away from a hospital regardless of their ability to pay.

    Also, I don’t think most people are against universal health care per se… I think we’re against government-run health care. There are plenty of ways to improve access to quality health care that are much less expensive and intrusive than what the Dems are proposing.

  2. Publius the Geek says:

    I’m inclined to view that, while necessary, as inadequate. That does not cover the need for preventive care, long-term care and treatments, mental health care. Conditions that reach the hospital are often conditions that could have been treated far earlier and for far less cost.

    That said, I welcome better options at reform than those presented by the Democrats. I just don’t see how any such reform is possible without at least some level of government involvement.

  3. dcbarton says:

    Actually, since most uninsured persons, according to the most recent cencus information, are uninsured people between 18 and 30 who choose not to pay for the insurance offered by the companies they work for, or people making $55,000 a year or more and choose not to pay for it, approximately 9 to 10 million are illegal aliens, the rest, numbering around 10 million could get on the medicaid or medicare progams that already exist.
    The sad fact is that Obama’s health care reform isn’t about health care reform, it is about just one more intrusion into our lives and still more government control.
    And just a note, the New American Bible misquotes earlier editions which mentioned absolutely nothing about tending to the ill or visiting in prison in Matthew 25. It is a translation invented by Liberals in a sleazy attempt to justify their Liberation Theology.

  4. Publius the Geek says:

    Wow I wish my Jules Verne post got so much traffic.

    Now as far as uninsured under their own choice. That’s easily solved. Here in Massachusetts we require people above a certain income to have health care. And we place restrictions on insurers requiring them to take people. And employers of ten or more must include health care in their benefits. So boom, problem solved for that 18-30 population.

    [edit – added following paragraph]
    Though that number is still pretty small drop in the bucket of the uninsured. The Kaiser Family Foundation has details on the disposition of the uninsured and the difficulties for adults in obtaining government coverage. (This document was prepared before the bulk of this recession’s job losses which I imagine has added to the number of uninsured) http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/1420-10.pdf

    btw the illegal aliens are still… well human. My submission that it is a human right is still present.

    I used the New American Bible since it is the Catholic Bible and I’m a Catholic… But the King James Version (the English Jesus spoke? 🙂 ) has the same concept:
    [31] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    [32] And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    [34] Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    [35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    [40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    [41] Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    [42] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    [43] I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    [44] Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    [45] Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    That pretty much predates liberation theology by a few centuries….

  5. Mike says:

    Hey dcbarton!

    How about providing a citation for your numbers and your statements as to why people are uninsured? If I look at documentation from the Kaiser Family Foundation that was cited in the previous comment by Publius the Geek, it seems that most people who are uninsured are poor. I’ve known some poor people in my time, many of whom have had to use credit cards to, say, buy a loaf of white bread so their kids could eat. I’m guessing quite a bit of these people are rolling the dice on whether or not they’ll get sick because they can’t roll the dice on whether or not they’ll need dinner.

    Moreover, they also cite that the most commonly provided reason for insurance companies to drop insurance benefits is the rising costs of premiums, which nearly doubled between 2000 and 2007.

    Now, this reference http://www.epionline.org/study_detail.cfm?sid=122 asserts that 43% of the uninsured are uninsured by choice, e.g. they have the money to buy insurance but they don’t. But this still means there’s 20 million plus who have nothing. Of course, the paper seems to not care about them as though that’s not a crisis.

    Mind you, their basis is on the poverty line, currently set at roughly $22k for a family of four. Well, 2.5x that is $55k for a family of four, and that may seem like a whole lot of money some places, but where I live, a two bedroom apartment will run you $1000/month or more. Add to that groceries, electricity, a telephone, gas for your car and this number gets pretty small. And if that family of four requires care for one or more of their children? I know I pay $338/month for after school care for my child, and all day child care for pre-school aged children is several times that. Bottom line: the poverty line may be relevant for some other states, but on the coasts, 2.5x the poverty line is enough to survive, but not enough to live.

    Way I see it, the evidence is pretty clear– the insurance companies are for profit and make a profit by massively increasing costs at several times inflation, and then use some of their profits to buy out the Congress. From where I stand, President Obama is the one who has the guts and the integrity to actually stand up to them. And if you doubt the cash is flowing, a little reading here http://www.opensecrets.org/ will provide you with evidence of just how much the wheels are greased by the insurance industry. and once again, we can see that President Obama had the courage to turn down their money: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/summary.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00009638.

  6. Mike says:

    (forgot to sign up for notification via email of follow-ups)

  7. dcbarton says:

    “June 9, 2009 in Current Events, Health Insurance, Supply of Medical Services, Wait Times

    From the USA Today, here are the wait times to see a doctor in the following cities:

    Boston: 49.6
    Philadelphia: 27
    Los Angeles: 24.2
    Houston: 23.4
    Washington, D.C.: 22.6
    San Diego 20.2
    Minneapolis: 19.8
    Dallas: 19.2
    New York: 19.2
    Denver: 15.4 days
    Miami: 15.4 days”
    How is that health care plan really working in Massachusetts? I can call my doctor and get in to see him the same week, and can pay cash for the visit, $75 isn’t much, most families of 4 will spend that and more for a night at the movies or eating out for a night. It is just a matter of priorities.
    Illegal aliens are, as you put it, “human”, but so is my ex-wife, the question becomes why should I pay for her healthcare or theirs? Another problem comes with reading HR 3200, the house bill on health care reform,
    (1) Limitation on new enrollment.–
    (A) In general.–Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer
    offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of
    coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.”
    In other words, they don’t want private health insurance and have included wording in the bill that will kill private insurance companies.
    In Part 1, General Provisions, of the same bill, is
    “(20) Qualified health benefits plan.–The term “qualified health benefits plan” means a health benefits plan that meets
    the requirements for such a plan under title I and includes the public health insurance option.”
    In this part of the bill, you can see that you no longer have control over the policy you buy, the government sets the policy, a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t and cannot fit all.
    Mike, I’ll get to your response next weekend when I have more time. But I would point to the fact that the politics on the coast have caused most if not all of their problems. Case in point, California’s current budget problems. They raised taxes and put mandates on employers until the employers leave state, the give unions everything they want, then are politically obligated to the unions to continued those benefits even though it means putting the state into bankruptcy. Several years ago California had rolling blackouts, they blamed Enron, but in truth it was California’s own fault, they refused to build power plants then demanded other states sell them power at the price they wished to pay. They are now having an upcoming economy crisis due to caving in to enviromentalists demands to save a non-endangered delta smelt by cutting off the water to the farms, which provide the vast majority of California’s economy.
    If it costs too much to live where you are, move, this is still America and you are allowed, but don’t try to escape California and bring it with you, that is why I had to leave Colorado 20 years ago.

  8. Mike says:

    Kind of a tangent, but nonetheless…

    “If it costs too much to live where you are, move” doesn’t solve anything. When your cost of living expenses decrease, so does your salary. Easily verifiable by googling for rent costs in different locations and then checking the delta in salaries on indeed.com.

  9. Publius the Geek says:

    “Illegal aliens are, as you put it, “human”, but so is my ex-wife, the question becomes why should I pay for her healthcare or theirs?”

    If I classify health care as a human right, then yes, if they can not otherwise afford it. Does a criminal in prison have a right to have treatment for an infection or a tumor? Should the fire department save the life of an illegal immigrant trapped in a burning building? Should the police investigate if your ex-wife’s residence is robbed? They do so with your tax money.

    (As an aside, many illegal immigrants DO pay taxes… – http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/1424.html Not saying it is not a problem)

  10. dcbarton says:

    “If I classify health care as a human right…”
    The Second Amendment classifies gun ownership as a “right” but do the taxpayers have to provide me with a gun? No, I have a right to own a gun, but with that right comes the obligation to exercise that right or not. The same can said to be true of health care, if it is a right (but it is NOT a right according to the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land) then the people wanting health care would have the obligation to provide their own health care.
    Moving doesn’t solve anything? Sure when the cost of living goes down, the income will also go down, but you still come out ahead, and it is always better to do something to improve your own life, unless of course, you prefer to sit around whining and let someone else pay your way. That is what the health care reform is all about, letting someone else pay the way for welfare bums that won’t make the effort to pay their own way.
    Illegal aliens are “human”, they are also criminals here illegally. They should be sent back home, then they would have their health care paid for since Mexico has socialized health care. The criminals in prison do have a right to health care, but not a Constitutional right, and they should have to pay for it themselves.

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