The Uninsured and God

March 27th, 2012 / 6 Comments

The United States Supreme Court case to decide the fate of the newly approved U.S. health care laws has me thinking about God. And I’m thinking this whole discussion suggests that God is active in creation.

The issues in this case are complex. Proponents and opponents are passionate. The stakes seem high. It’s pretty exciting — and important!

I have been following the discussion for some time. I have my own thoughts on the new health care system, of course. But I’ve been thinking about the big picture lately.

Dealing with the Uninsured

One major issue in the debate revolves around providing care for the uninsured. At present, those with health insurance pay about $1,000 extra each year in hidden costs to cover the uninsured who need medical care.

Years ago, congress passed a law that requires health care providers to provide care to the uninsured — at least provide care in certain circumstances. Apparently, the main reason this law passed was that the majority of people in America believe health care providers are morally obligated to help those in great need.

Of course, one way to “handle” those who do not have insurance is to deny them help when they need it. When an uninsured victim of a stabbing shows up at an emergency room, for instance, our society could “handle” the situation by turning the bleeding victim away.

In other words, the problems that arise when uninsured need emergency care could be dealt with by letting the uninsured suffer and die. “Too bad you didn’t get insurance!” we might say. “But it serves you right!”

Fortunately, very few people in the U.S. want the uninsured turned away from health care when it’s needed most. The law passed forbidding this and the present health care plan both provide evidence that the majority of us think the most needy should be helped.

God and Our Moral Sensibilities

So… why do so many of us with health insurance even care that the uninsured get help? Why do we think it’s wrong just to let those without insurance suffer and die?

There may be many answers for these question. But a main answer — perhaps THE main answer — is that the majority of us feel morally obligated to help those in great need. We think that at least somebody ought to be the Good Samaritan.

But from where does this moral obligation come?

The best answer, say those of us who believe in God, is that our basic moral sensibilities derive from God.  Of course, Christians have different ways of talking about God as the source of or morality. But they all point to God as morality’s source.

It’s important to note that Christians need not say God is the ONLY factor sustaining our sense of morality. Christians might also say familial, cultural, evolutionary, or other factors are also in the mix of shaping our moral intuitions.

But Christians claim — rightfully, in my view — that any fully satisfactory answer to why people feel morally responsible must be an answer that involves God in some essential way.


No matter what the Supreme Court decides in this case, I am convinced that the U.S. health care debate has at its root a common sensibility that moral intuitions about right and wrong exist. And I’m convinced that these intuitions most plausibly arise from the presence of God in our lives and in the world.

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Micky Boyer

I totally agree with your conclusion; the moral bent we have comes from being made in the image of God. His likeness is seen in us in every way but our fallenness. The problem as I see it is not whether we show compassion or not, of course we do, but how do we get back to God’s system of government? God said “if a man does not work he should not eat”. We all know we are supposed to care for the widows and orphans, but taking from those work and giving it to those who will not, is not moral or Godly. It would good for the Christian community to consider how we may be the people of God. My guess is that we will not be satisfied to shirk our moral responsibilities in favor of attempting to legislate morality, and in doing so force people to do right instead of right actions being a gift to God. After all isn’t it about being Christlike and living a life of love?

Eric Knape

But is it moral for the government to take the money to pay for that healthcare at the point of a gun? I realize that is a little extreme, but isn’t that what the IRS does when we don’t pay taxes? They force it from you.

I can’t argue against your premise for this post, because I agree with you. I can’t help but wonder if people would still be in favor of paying for healthcare for those who can’t afford it of they had the choice whether or not to do so.


“The law passed forbidding this and the present health care plan both provide evidence that the majority of us think the most needy should be helped.”

Well … we are in agreeance with this.

But wait! Like ginzu knives, there is more! 

Why was it necessary to pass a law mandating that a certain level of care be provided the indigenous among us? No … wait … make that ‘indigent.’ But why did the government find it necessary to pass such a law if the majority of us think the most needy should be helped?

We have plenty of examples of the selflessness of many doctors. For example, our family practitioner spends a lot of time in Haiti (let me put in a plug here: and try the Neg Mawon, from without the government requiring it of him.

We can see more of this through NCM. There are many very generous people in this world. We sometimes lose track of that as we – depending on our profession – deal with the world’s unmitigated SOB’s, the kind that would cause even Jesus to have a knock-down, drag-out temper tantrum, kicking over tables and chairs and grabbing ‘em by the scruff of the neck and tossing ‘em down the temple stairs.

Hospitals are businesses. So is your local doc’s office. They are in business to make money. Right? So why is the government mandating what a non-governmental medical facility or practice do with its resources? If “Christians” can throw Jesus-like temper tantrums over a harmless little Wal-mart cashier not wishing them a “Merry Christmas”, and scream for a boycott of the Godless heathen corporation, why not direct all that energy toward something that really matters? Like boycotting a hospital that turns away the poor? Why does the government have to do it?

Now we have those of us who have insurance paying for those who do not, not because we believe it is the right thing to do, but because the government requires it of the business entities, which (or ‘who’, if they are corporations) do what businesses do, and pass their costs on to the paying customers. Not only do we pay that, which we would do even if the medical businesses were acting out of the goodness of their blood-sucking corporate hearts, but now we also pay for the vast government bureaucracy that goes with the mandate. It’s worse than that … now we have officious little clerks coming up with reams of regulations that require greater and greater amounts of taxes be withdrawn out of our pockets and wallets and redistributed to cover more and more ‘approved medical situations’ afflicting the indigent. So while my co-pays continue to rise, and my monthly insurance payments continue to rise, to the point where if one of the kids gets sick it has to be ‘well, when you get to the point you can’t crawl to school, we’ll see about a doc’s appointment …” the ER is full of our indigent communal partners and their kids with the sniffles. Why not? It’s free!

On top of that, we now have the government trying to not only mandate that everyone buy insurance, but suffer a fiscal penalty if they don’t.

It ain’t the government’s business. Hopefully, the Robed Ones will see it that way, but I wouldn’t bet my next paycheck on it.

The government’s involvement here is the result of a societal failure to observe Christ’s new commandment, because government will always find a way to fill a void, especially with more and more tax bucks.

A societal failure, you ask? Aha! It’s the old “… this is supposed to be a Christian nation and it would be except for all them Godless leftie libruls and homersekshuls and Democrats and them librul churches with commie ‘social justice’ programs!”

Uh huh.

One may also ask why it is that we find it so easy to fund missions to Haiti and Africa, while adopting an attitude toward our homegrown indigents that would make Mr. Bumble seem the epitome of warm, fuzzy generosity.

Just axin’. I don’t have the answers; I’m just axin’.

Eric Vail

Tom, thanks for a thoughtful post that tries to help us think on one of the foundational issues for us as Christians. Micky, there is certainly a percentage of people who “will not work” (only about 20% of those who fall in the category of being poor). There are entire groups of hard-working folks in America who do not have healthcare: e.g., restaurant employees, pastors of small churches, etc. As an adult they do not qualify for medicaid because they choose to work (in MO you do not qualify if you make over $370/mo.), but their low income level makes insurance an impossibility (no matter how frugally they live). Again, the percentage of able-bodied uninsured people who, by choice, fall into the category of “do not work” is not nearly as large as you may think…

John W. Dally

The difference between the Good Samaritan and a federal system of health care is that the Good Samaritan provided the care personally. When we relinquish Christian moral decisions to a state or government the decisions will always lean toward the state’s interests.
We have relinquished a lot of our Christian responsibilities,Welfare, Medicare, and justice (death penalty) over to a soulless, inanimate, body. The results have been waste,corruption and unsustainable programs.
Yes, a Christian would want to see justice, morality, and compassion prevail. However, these are human traits. A state or government is not human.

Kris Bos

Dr. Oord I have to agree with you when you say that God is important for morality but also other things come into play. Family, culture, and evolution play a role in morality. I think as Christians we can say that God is probably the biggest influence but other things do come into play. Day by day we lives our lives but we as Christians have to know we are supposed to be disciples to all nations and to accept everybody no matter what they have done or if they can recieve health insurance or not.

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