Balancing Acts–Proverbs, Politics and Practicalities

by  Tom Beutel

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.

Proverbs 11:10a (NIV) tom b

I have been reading the book of Proverbs for a Lenten devotional, coupled with some guidance on understanding Biblical wisdom literature such as Proverbs from How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. Perhaps it is just the way I tend to see things, but I have found a lot to ponder in Proverbs as it relates to current politics in the US and around the globe.

In particular, the recent Republican health care legislation that failed to pass is a case in point. There were several major problems with the plan which undoubtedly lead to its failure. First of all there is the matter of honesty. Consider Proverbs 11:1:

The Lord detests dishonest scales,

                        but accurate weights find favor with him.

Politicians from the President to rank-and-file Republicans promised that their plan would provide affordable health care coverage for all. But this was not true. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CB0) analysis premiums would increase, as would deductibles, and 24 million people would lose their insurance. Even when these facts were known the bill was still “sold” as a “good” bill. See

http://www.npr.org/2017/03/13/520031463/gop-health-care-bill-could-leave-24m-without-coverage-by-2026-cbo-says

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/22/news/economy/deductibles-obamacare-gop-health-care-bill/)

Many of those who would have lost insurance would have been low-income people on Medicaid. To make matters worse, their loss would have been “paid for” by tax cuts for the richest Americans, up to a $207,000 cut for the top 0.1% of earners. (http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/14/top-01-of-earners-would-get-a-207000-tax-cut-under-gop-plan-to-repeal-obamacare.html) This tax cut would have created a new base for the budget from which additional tax cuts could be reckoned. The health care bill was a key to other agenda items, particularly tax reform. It was not just about health care.

The integrity of the upright guides them,

                         but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.(Proverbs 11:3)

While individual proverbs are no guarantee of a particular outcome, this proverb says that, generally, duplicitous behavior does not lead to success. This seems to have been the case with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Promoted as a solution to the problem of providing affordable health care to Americans, the bill was really about, or at least also about, resetting the tax base for further tax reform, a fact that was generally not promoted.

Proverbs 11:10 says,

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;

                        when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

In general, Proverbs 11 focuses on a comparison of the behavior of the “righteous,” that is, those who follow God’s way, and the “wicked,” that is, those who don’t. It also focuses on the effects of the behavior of the righteous and the wicked on the community: neighbor, city, and nation. As Proverbs 11:10 says, it is for the common good when the “righteous proper.” It may be a bit of an oversimplification to say the the righteous prospered in the failure of the AHCA, but there were many Americans who rightly expressed concern over the loss of insurance for millions of their fellow citizens, over the reduction of benefits, and over the tax breaks for those who least need them. It strikes me that indeed the “righteous prospered,” and the “city rejoice[d].”\

So much for Proverbs and politics. On to practicalities.

First, there are alternatives to traditional insurance that may appeal to some, particularly to those who object to insurance coverage of certain procedures or who like the idea of “bearing one another’s burdens,” as advocated in Galatians 6:2. While this scripture certainly is not singling out health care, the idea of providing for needs within the Christian community, including the cost of health care, is certainly a Christian idea. It is the basis of the idea of “mutual aid” inherent in some denominations such as the Mennonites and Amish.

In this line, there are a number of “health share” ministries which provide for sharing health care costs. Typically, a member pays a monthly amount which is like a premium. This amount is used to pay qualifying medical costs such as doctors’ visits, hospital charges, and prescription drugs, for one or more other members. The specifics of how this is done vary, but this is the general idea. Depending on the particular health share ministry there may be an annual amount which acts like a deductible or there may be a per instance amount for which the member is responsible, like a co-pay. Some procedures and things that traditional insurance might cover, such as abortion, infertility, and mental health services are not covered.

While a health share program is not considered to be insurance, per se, it does qualify under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as having insurance as mandated by the ACA.

For general information and a comparison of several health share ministries, here are couple of links:

 

Clicking on the appropriate link in the second site will take you to the web page for a specific ministry.

One more thing. Prescription drugs can be expensive, especially if you have maintenance medications that you need to buy each month. There are number of free programs for getting prescription drugs at a reduced rate. One, in particular, GoodRx, generally has prices that are comparable to those provided by insurers. The program is free and is accepted at most pharmacies. If this is something you or a friend or family member might benefit from, at least check it out.

 

 

Finally, however we choose to cover our medical costs, we must keep in mind that we can improve our health or maintain good health by healthy lifestyle choices: eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting proper sleep, getting regular checkups. We can also make responsible choices about obtaining care and how we pay for that care.

 

 

 

 

 

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