Life, Lost Liberty and Happiness Crammed Down My Throat

Ah, politics. I’ve been laughing a great deal this week. I love the dramatic headlines: “Government shutdown: Politicians squabble as World War II veterans break down memorial gates, ‘Panda Cam’ lovers cut off” or “Now What? Government shutdown to be felt across America.” What? I didn’t feel a thing. I was busy living life, amidst the irritation of having to decide what I’m going to do in regards to this most vile of laws, the Affordable Care Act. My reasons for objecting to this law are thus:

  1. I have never had health insurance. This is because I cannot afford it. I refuse to feel sorry for myself because of this, and it has never occurred to me to request that the government pay for my healthcare by extorting the money for said healthcare from others more fortunate than myself. This is because I was taught that if I desire something, I must pay for it myself, not demand it from someone else.
  2. Affordable healthcare, under the constitution, is not an inalienable right. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. Essentially, this disastrous piece of legislation hands happiness (or my desire) to me, bypassing the pursuit of it (or struggle for it) which the Constitution guarantees me. Does no one remember that the struggle for the things we most desire often renders the most meaning and fulfillment in life? But to add insult to injury ACA does not even offer “happiness” to me, it demands that I accept it without argument.
  3. The Affordable Healthcare Act is dressed-up welfare. Only, much, much worse. Welfare is supposed to be temporary. (Technically.) If hard times befall me, I can temporarily sign up for Welfare until I get myself back on my feet. The Affordable Healthcare Act is permanent Welfare—permanent reliance on the government. And it’s not for a small segment of the population. Everyone must be involved in some degree or another. The whole fiscal responsibility of this law has been called into question time and time again. Do I really need to point out one more time that a government in debt to the tune of several trillion dollars can’t afford to pay for its population’s healthcare?
  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Affordable Healthcare Act is the first law that requires an individual to buy a good or service on the basis of existence. I exist. Therefore, I must buy health insurance. I can avoid buying car insurance if I want to. I simply don’t buy a car. Since when did it become Constitutional to force American citizens to buy goods and services predicated on existence?

So, my question is, when a government will no longer govern itself, what is a Christian to do? At what point does a government become so perverse that a Christian can no longer comply with some of its laws? How much longer will we assist an unprincipled government to dig its hole deeper and deeper? I still haven’t found the answer to that question.

We’re losing our liberties at a rapid pace. That much is evident. Once this law sinks us into twice as much debt as we’re already faced with, the term “prosperity” will be a relic of the past. I can hear the conservatives wailing with misery already and Christians complaining  about losing religious freedoms. But here’s another side to the story.

Throughout the majority of history, most civilizations have been controlled by tyrannical governments. Even now, how many countries in the world are under the thumbs of despots? Are there enough fingers on our hands to count them? Probably not. So, what happens when socialism continues its inexorable march forward in our country? What happens when American’s not only lose their liberties but hand them over in relief from the responsibilities they demand? What happens when Christians are barred from doing business in the public sphere? I hate to break it to you but life goes on. More importantly, God’s Kingdom marches on, while the Church blooms forth, from the weak and pitiful organization it’s been for the last century and a half, to a mighty army in all the splendor God intended for it. Here’s a truth to wrap your minds around: Suffering breeds strength and resolve. Ease and comfort engender flabby character and useless consumers. It’s no coincidence that Christians under fire have been better and more powerful witnesses for the Gospel of Christ than those living unchallenged.

Well, what shall I do about the Affordable Care Act? I’m not entirely sure at the moment. But I can tell you I won’t be running to the “Exchange” any time soon.

obamacare-cartoon-2-a

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.  Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it. — Ronald Reagan

7 thoughts on “Life, Lost Liberty and Happiness Crammed Down My Throat

  1. Well said Amanda. You make some excellent points, and raise some worthy questions that are in need of much critical thought. What I perceive to be one of the major flaws in much thinking about the ACA is the definition of an “inalienable right”, as your rightly note in your second point. Traditionally, such a right was understood to be such that everyone could possess or attain and that no one could truly dispossess from an individual without requiring a reaction (i.e., the founder’s definition of tyranny). Now however, we seem to define preferences and desires as inalienable rights. Under the ACA, if you don’t buy health insurance, you get penalized, suggesting that a) you can choose to not have an inalienable right (huh?) and b) the government now feels you can be taxed if you don’t like your inalienable right. Will be start penalizing those who commit suicide (how does that work) or don’t desire happiness (depressed people, watch out)? The increasing absurdity of the white tower of government apparently knows no bounds. Keep up the good work.

  2. It is narrow minded to assume that just because you are young and healthy that you will always remain young and healthy and that everyone else is just like you. Do you plan to never get insurance, or will you just get it when you think you might be needing to acquire some medical bills. If your answer is B, then you are truly leeching off the system.

    What if you had a catastrophic illness or accident while not on insurance that required hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care? Would you not get it treated because you could not afford it, likely ending your life? Or would you take the treatment and be burdened by debt for the rest of your life, debt with interest rates that overwhelm any monthly payment you might make, paralyzing your credit and essentially making you unable to “pursue happiness.”

    You are arguing from the point of view that the uninsured get no health care at all. But society is already paying for everyone’s health care. This bill attempts to structure it. When a person shows up at the emergency room, the hospital doesn’t demand proof of insurance or payment up front before treating. If a person does not pay, the hospital ends up eating the loss or spreading the cost out among its paying patients. Some hospitals receive government funding to offset the cost of this.

    And providing care only in emergencies ends up costing society more because preventive care is usually much cheaper. I know someone who had a worsening neck/vertebrae problem. He never had insurance so he never had it looked at until eventually it got so bad he was in crippling pain, could not work, finally was able to receive Medicaid and then had multiple major surgeries to fuse multiple vertebrae. Now he will receive disability payments for the rest of this life. Society is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost productivity because this person did not have insurance.

    His story only somewhat of a happy ending because he was able to navigate the system to get the health care he needed. There are many more like him who cannot access health care for chronic conditions, such as dialysis, or chemotherapy or diabetes control. And then they die. The Tea Party Republicans who have decided that health care should not be affordable to all is the ultimate death panel.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I suspected some might think I was arguing out of ignorance, inexperience or both. Indeed, I do not think I will always be healthy. Though I am healthy at present, that has not always been the case. For instance, last year I developed a severe rash all over my body. I went to the doctor and had blood work done. The results pointed to an autoimmune disease. To make a long story short, I was told I had Lyme’s Disease, the chronic variety that a large majority of the healthcare system dismisses as an impossibility. (You can see the documentary Under Our Skin for more info on that.) Insurance companies don’t cover treatment for chronic Lyme Disease. Regardless, I was left with a five-hundred-dollar bill for blood work along with a motley assortment of other doctor bills (including trips to a dermatologist to take care of the oozing, infected, itchy rash that had covered my body from April to October)–all while making approximately 700-800 dollars a month and no health insurance. So, I set up a payment system for my bills–fifty dollars a month. It took me a good part of the year to pay that back, but it’s all paid now. I hardly call that leeching the system. Right now, I am virtually symptom-free in regards to the Lyme Disease, due to some dietary changes, some antibiotics and natural supplements. But it isn’t gone and could potentially flare up again. Admittedly, there are people with far worse health issues than myself. I could tell you about my father who was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosis when I was five years old–lots and lots of medical bills all paid and without health insurance. Or my mom who was sick for a couple of months with an unusual thyroid condition called Wilson’s syndrome. Lots of bills, all paid, no health insurance. Or myself when I was a little girl. Our family doctor did not do the right diagnostics to catch a strep infection before it affected my heart and weakened my immune system which led to a staph infection. Once again, lots of bills, all paid. Or I could tell you about my younger brother who developed appendicitis,and had to have an emergency operation. One huge bill, paid without health insurance.

      So, I do understand the precarious nature of my health. I also understand that hospitals do not turn away patients if they are uninsured. My younger brother is a nurse at a fine hospital in our area and has often said that the hospital has to dismiss debts all of the time. They have to swallow it as a loss. That is extremely unfortunate and unfair. While I readily admit that the system we presently have needs an overhaul, I can’t honestly look at the Affordable Care Act and think of it as the solution.

      My main beef with this law is the actual affordability of it as well as the Constitutionality of it, which is zilch. To force people to buy a good or service predicated on existence and to exact a penalty for failing to do so, is not right.

      I would gladly welcome a healthcare plan that wouldn’t sink the country deeper into debt or violate the Constitution. The likelihood of either Democrats or Republicans coming up with such a solution any time soon seems slim, considering all the nonsense going on at present.

      As for myself, there are a couple of options I’m looking into. Possibly a life insurance policy with a provision for serious illness or accident. The other option would be to join one of the medical bill sharing companies already approved under ACA. This would probably be rather expensive for me. But I feel strongly enough about the issue that I would rather fork over the money for that then support what I believe to be an unethical law. Thankfully, my financial situation is much better at present than it was last year.

      At any rate, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  3. I appreciate your comment and sharing of your personal experiences. It is impressive that your family has made a point of paying off its health care expenses, unlike others which your brother has seen.

    You admit that our system needs an overhaul, and while no one thinks the ACA is the best solution, I have not seen a better one. It is more compassionate than the system we have now, where even middle class families sometimes cannot get insurance due to pre-existing conditions and accumulate medical bills far beyond their ability to repay them and others go for years with untreated conditions because they cannot afford the doctor visits.

    I had to ponder your argument “To force people to buy a good or service predicated on existence and to exact a penalty for failing to do so, is not right.” It occurred to me that property taxes are quite similar. Even if you are renting a home, the cost of property taxes are built into your monthly rent. You pay the property taxes because the municipality expects you to use the service that your taxes fund – the roads, the parks, the fire fighters, even if you do not. Would you consider education to be an inalienable right? Families with no children in school pay the same property tax rate as families with multiple children in school. A person who never had children still benefits from having an educated society. His tax dollars paid for his doctor’s schooling, his plumber’s schooling and even the schooling of the person operating the cash register at the grocery store.

    Health insurance is similar in that the system expects you to use the service, if not this month or this year, then sometime in your life. And even if you never use it, society still is better when its members are healthy.

    I suppose you could argue that people who are homeless do not pay property taxes, and that is true. However, homelessness is the result of extreme poverty, and (maybe you did not know this) those up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level are not required to purchase insurance at all. In fact in many states, they will get it for free. For you as a single person, that would be an annual income of $15,414.

  4. However, I object to taking something for free from someone who had no choice in the matter but to give it.

    Property taxes are similar, but not quite the same.

    I am certainly not the only who who has raised an argument about the issue of penalties for not buying health insurance. In fact, there were many legal challenges to the law after it was passed. “On December 13, 2010, Federal District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia ruled that a key provision of the health-care legislation, the “insurance mandate,” violated the Commerce Clause and was therefore unconstitutional. The suit challenged the notion that the federal Constitution gives the U.S. Congress power to enact laws forcing Americans to buy things they do not want to buy.” You can read the entire article here: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=615

    In answer to these challenges, the Obama administration resorted to semantics by saying the penalty was not really a penalty but a tax even though he promised healthcare reforms would not raise taxes (at least on the middle class). The whole thing has been dishonest from start to finish.

    I doubt we will ever come to an agreement over this topic. But I do appreciate the fact that we have been able to hold a civil and polite conversation. Civility is at premium right now. And though I disagree with you, I do not doubt that your support of this law comes from a compassionate heart which does you credit. We will see how this thing plays out.

    More food for thought. I thought the second article was especially interesting as it was an MD’s perspective: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2013/08/05/airbrushing-away-the-numerous-false-promises-of-obama-care/
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottatlas/2013/09/22/obamacares-supporters-are-living-in-the-past-which-is-where-healthcare-quality-will-remain/

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