Written by Calvin Fox   
Friday, 27 September 2013 09:55

Health Care and Moral Issues

Much talk about Health Care Reform is actually about Health Insurance Reform and curtailing the costs involved. Obviously related, they are not the same thing at all. Health Care is far more broad than Health Insurance and should be reformed first. Lower costs should follow. Two major areas of high costs involve the Elderly, especially those in chronic or long term care facilities and those who are very young, especially children in neonatal hospital units.

If we are concerned about the amounts of money being spent on these two groups we must question why they should receive expensive medical care in the first place. Is there good or valid reason for it? One reason newborns and the elderly live longer is that technology and medicine make saving or extending lives increasingly possible. The reason we value the extension of anyone's life at all costs is a personal, moral issue, not a medical one. Valuing the extension of a new born's life or of a very elderly person's life at all costs in not a medical issue. Insisting that the Insurance Company, the taxpayers or the Government cover such costs for all who demand them is a moral issue. Is it Biblical to believe everything that can be done for a patient must be done, regardless of costs, ability to pay or even undesirable consequences. Moral or ethical (and therefore, Christian) issues greatly determine health care on every level including the matters of cost and insurance.

Christians must rethink end of life issues both for themselves and everything involved in the care of their elders at various stages of their lives. They must come to terms and plans, as Christians, concerning home care by family members, long term care facilities (nursing homes), hospice care and dying as well as Insurance and costs and level of care.

Christians must not obsess with prolonging life in face of terminal illness- 25-30 % of Medicare goes 5-6% of patients who die within 1 year. Christians may utilize pain management, but should avoid heroic measures to prolong life rather than allowing nature [God] to take it's course unimpeded when the end is obviously near. (Feeding by tube is not an heroic measure, it is feeding the patient and to stop doing that is to starve them to death.) "Pulling the plug" is turning off machines that are keeping the patient "alive" artificially. This is not Euthanasia.

Euthanasia is the deliberate act of suicide with the dominant motive to avoid suffering from a fatal disease in its terminal stages. Euthanasia is also the intentional act of suicide to avoid suffering from a debilitating old age or disease for which there is no known cure. Pain management should remove the suffering in either case and remove that reason for the suicide. Of course, people may rationalize the suicide for other reasons. Obviously, assisting a suicide is wrong, too.

Christians must rethink beginning of life issues involving reproduction (the when, why and how of child bearing). I have in mind the use of both birth control on one hand, delaying conception until late in life or for "personal" reasons and thus endangering the baby when it is conceived or carried as well as the use of artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (embryo implantation). The consequences of doing the latter can be very costly for the to the babies and parents involved. Of course, abortion is out of the question for most Christians, but artificially prolonging the life of babies who will not not survive on their own naturally must be at least questioned.

Christians must reconsider the costs of health care for themselves and members of their family of all ages.

What is morally fair or reasonable treatment or cost? If there are limited funds for unlimited needs, who decides allocation and on what basis? What is fair to every family member, not only the patient? The difference between extension of life and quality of life is ethical or moral, not medical. Who decides what "quality of life" is and where the line is drawn between minimal and maximum quality of life and of care? Christians need to face these moral issues and seek guidance from the Lord about them.

Christians must clarify what their civic responsibilities are as Citizens.

What is the common good? What is fair for all citizens. They must realize that there are more than 300 million citizens and that Health Care must compete for funding along with Education, National Defense. Aid to Cities and Towns, Entitlement Programs, Bailouts and Stimulus Plans and maintenance of Infrastructure among others. The sky is not the limit for tax payers money. What costs are we as a Nation willing and able to sustain to achieve all the our goals? Who makes those decisions? Christian citizens must make their views known as Christians.

Specific Cost Cutting Possibilities: Major Biblical Principle- Good Stewardship

Optimal and equal health care and outcomes according to need (desire) for all individuals is not a Right and is not feasible. Biblical stewardship calls for wise spending and avoiding debt. In these matters we must move out into research of facts and data and make reasonable and unselfish decisions as citizens.

One of the serious problems pushing up health care costs is greed (which is not the same as profit). There is a lot of money to be made in the Health Care Industry. The broad field of Health Care is a business in every aspect from research to delivery. Health care itself is a Christian ministry, but Christians in the business, at every level, must be sure of their motives and that greed is not one of them.

There are many specific proposals to be considered that the Bible does not mention and so are beyond the scope of this paper. They are matters of common sense and good business practices. In these matters we must research facts and data and make reasonable and unselfish non-political decisions as citizens.




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Last Updated on Friday, 27 September 2013 09:56