History chairperson responds to ongoing health care discussion



St. Paul admonished us in Romans 13:8 to “owe no one anything but to love one another.” Furthermore, he upbraided the Corinthians for looking to the law courts of those outside the Church to find redress of grievances. 


He noted that we shall judge angels and, as this is so, how much more are we able to judge things of this life?

We are called to maturity, and not to relegate our responsibility to those outside of the community of love, namely the Church. 


I have read with much appreciation both Dr. Jonathan Yonan’s article on health care (Sept. 16), and Dr. Bret Kincaid’s rejoinder (Oct. 28). 


Dr. Yonan’s and Dr. Kincaid’s respective efforts possess the shared goal of how best to provide health care for the people of our country. They diverge, however, in regard to the means necessary to effect this. 


Dr. Yonan’s approach seems fairly clear: We should look to the markets, unhindered by government interference, which we would correctly call the classical liberal model. The market is nothing other than people deciding what they need and what they are willing to pay for it. 


Prices in this regard are nothing other than modes of information, detailing the desires of individuals in relation to supply. Third-party interferences (health insurance and government insinuations) bring an aberrant influence on prices, driving them up as they alter the nature of both supply and demand. Thus we have seen prices rise in the health field far faster than inflation. 


The only other major industry where this has occurred is higher education, another place where a third party has insinuated itself between the consumer–the students or their parents–and the supplier–the college or university. 


Dr. Kincaid countered that Dr. Yonan’s approach would throw the whole matter into the impersonal world of an “academic discipline.” 


Dr. Kincaid believes that we should be guided by a Biblical model, which he links to the notion of wholeness, and for this he calls upon the Hebrew word “shalom.” 


I am not exactly sure why this word should be valorized as opposed to the basic word for health, which in Greek is the same as the word used for salvation. 


Be that as it may, Dr. Kincaid’s most welcome appeal to Biblical norms, though moot to our federal government, should help prompt us in a correct direction. 


This involves charity. Like all the virtues, charity is first and foremost personal. So I don’t spend myself into debt, for doing so will deprive me of my ability to help those in need, per St. Paul’s Romans 13:8 admonition. 

In the end, this is why I find myself siding with Dr. Yonan’s approach, for while countries that have what is sometimes termed “socialized medicine” provide health care for all their citizens, this has all come with an ever-expanding cost and an ever-diminishing return. 


I will be honest and say that in this regard I speak only of the countries whose health systems I have studied–Canada, the U.K. and the former Soviet Union–for I have not looked at them all. 


What I see in them is the ever-dwindling ability of many to be able to respond to the needs of the few. There is an ever-expanding number left without the means to be charitable, for they have an increasing debt to a bureaucracy. The health care bureaucracy–this does not include doctors and nurses–in the UK is now 1.5 million people. 


Laying aside the question of subsidizing peoples’ poor choices–like sky diving and smoking–many people are driven to seek health care from no fault of their own. My diminutive wife has very high cholesterol, mine is minuscule, and for these the market is much like breaking down in the middle of nowhere: You get the wrecker du jour, and that’s it. 


Here, catastrophic insurance would provide a protection for all citizens, while enabling us to have the resources to pay the innkeepers to watch over the strangers we find wasted by thieves in the journey from Jericho to Jerusalem.

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