Need for Catastrophic Health Assurance

By Galen CareyDirector of Government Affairs National Association of Evangelicals Earlier this year my wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. … Continued

By Galen Carey
Director of Government Affairs
National Association of Evangelicals

Earlier this year my wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time we were working with World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world with virtually no modern medical personnel or facilities. Thanks to World Relief’s excellent insurance plan, my wife was able to get first-class treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She is now well on the road to recovery. The list price for her surgery and care came to over $60,000, but this was heavily discounted by the PPO network agreement, and after insurance reimbursement our out-of-pocket costs were less than $2,000.

Like other Americans, I have watched my health insurance premiums rise into the stratosphere: our family health insurance cost more in 2008 than my entire salary when I joined World Relief in 1983. Even so, our family insurance does not cover our 20-year-old son, who lives at home and is not a full-time student. If my son had required the same care, he would likely not have been accepted at Hopkins, and his treatment would have bankrupted our family.

My experience does not make me an expert in health care reform, but it does make me acutely aware of what is at stake in the current debate. Millions of Americans are one health crisis away from insolvency. Since the failed attempt at health reform in the early nineties, the ranks of the uninsured have grown dramatically. No one seriously believes that our current trajectory is sustainable. A majority of Americans, like me, are happy with their current insurance, but what happens when we can no longer afford the coverage to which we have become accustomed?

The health care debate has not brought out the best in us. Few politicians have had the courage to level honestly with their constituents. Instead, they pander. They promise the undeliverable, or they threaten the unthinkable. We cannot afford everything in health care just as we can’t sign a blank check for education, housing, or the arts. But we certainly can afford to do better than we have in the area of making basic health care affordable for all Americans.

Life is about making choices. Making intelligent choices depends on an informed and civil dialogue that takes the best ideas from all quarters. Refusing to accept unpleasant realities does not make them go away. When the debate degenerates into fear mongering and undignified shouting matches, we all lose.

Meanwhile in one of the ultimate ironies, health reform has come to represent a profound threat to the most vulnerable among us: those not yet born. As the National Association of Evangelicals stated very clearly in its 1994 resolution on health care reform, abortion is not health care. There may be a currently recognized legal right to abortion, but there is surely no right to compel taxpayers or health care workers to violate their conscience by paying for or participating in what they believe to be murder. Some of the current proposals in the Congress purport to be abortion neutral, but unless amended further, they could lead to a major increase in the number of abortions performed in the United States. This would be a deal breaker for many Americans, myself included, who care deeply about health care reform but who are committed to the protection of human life at all stages.

Galen Carey is Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals.

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  • dfl1

    Funny, but I don’t seem to recall the post-nominal letters M.D. or D.O. after the author’s name, so I wonder which medical school he attended that qualifies him to decide what is or is not a medical treatment. I respect his right to have his own opinion on abortion, however he is utterly unqualified to pass judgement on medical matters.

  • dfl1

    And how hippocritical of the author to criticize others for refusing to accept unpleasant realities when he himself refuses to accept the unpleasant reality that banning abortion will not eliminate or reduce its frequency. People will simply have underground abortions performed by unlicensed and unqualified practicioners, inevitably resulting in higher injury and fatality rates from this procedure.

  • konadog

    I’m very glad your wife is doing well and I agree about abortion. But I go furher. “Moral obligations” as Obama has put it should not be mandated. Anyone who chooses to help others obtain health care should do so voluntarily. Health reform as it has been called will NOT resolve the central issue. Cost continue to rise because consumers are over using medical care due to the fact they do not pay the full price of that resource. When my Pulmonologist has me see him 4 times a year I agree because I have a $10 copay. Same with medicare. “Reform” will only cause two things either even higher prices OR rationing. Real solution: Catastrophic coverage only. No copays. Consumers pay first 2K/year then insurance kicks. Can’t afford the 2K then charities can help. Anything else will encourage overuse.

  • konadog

    To the pro abortion comments: There is no such thing as a “safe” abortion. Someone ALWAYS gets killed.

  • DrVelocity

    An abortion is surely health care, and so is plastic surgery.Neither Private nor any Government Health Insurance plans are necessarily required to cover all forms of either class of care, or even any form at all.But the Government can surely force Private Insurers to cover abortion with money from their premiums, and the Goverment can surely use taxpayer dollars in a Government insurance plan to cover abortions, if we choose for it to do so.The qualms of those morally oppposed to abortion will not be considered any more the the qualms of those opposed to dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima or Nagasaki were considered in making that choice.Get over it, get use to it, learn to like it.

  • DrVelocity

    But Mr. Galen is right on one thing, the Government can’t force someone opposed to abortion to participate in one, any more than a vegan can be forced to work in a slaughterhouse. If not willing to do the job, the worker should not seek such employment.

  • MGT2

    “Moral obligations” as Obama has put it should not be mandated.” I disagree.Moral obligations mean that they must be performed, otherwise they would not be “obligations.” It makes sense that in the case of health care, a civilized, compassionate society is obligated to care for the poor as a moral duty. The alternative is to become an uncivilized, immoral society that leaves issues of right and wrong up the individual, in which case, each person will do what is right or moral in their own eyes. No society can endure under those moral conditions.

  • homeland1

    Nice’a Nice’ verrrryyyy Veerrrryyyy Nice.Went to visit me nearest Hospital Today. ANDI will report tomorrow on “HOW TO GET-OUT OF THE “MEDS For Everyone Quegmire. Meaning I think I Foud The ANSWER to this “Health-Care” Debate. Hint: It’s not a Problem; it’s right in front of our noses.Tatta! Happy Everyday!

  • ccnl1

    Bottom line: Those who live healthy life styles should not have to pay for the health care of those who don’t!!!

  • coloradodog

    Bottom line: Those who live healthy life styles should not have to pay for the health care of those who don’t!!!Posted by: ccnl1What about those who do live a healthy lifestyle and can’t afford to pay for health care like you can? Let them suffer and die without care as Christ’s punishment for their sloth and, uh, er, uh, ….”pre-existing conditions” like being pregnant with twins?There but for the grace of God go you.

  • coloradodog

    Bottom line: Those who live healthy life styles should not have to pay for the health care of those who don’t!!!Posted by: ccnl1On the other hand, ccnl1 is partly right. Why should I pay for the health care of those addicted to nicotine and alcohol? The health care costs for their drug addictions are astronomical. I remember my father saving money on car insurance for non-drinkers. Maybe this should be part of the plan – lower price incentives for healthy lifestyles. Or, we could just criminalize cigarettes and alcohol and give these multi-billion dollar businesses to the Mexican Drug Cartels as well.