Health Care in the U.S.
We call for a system where everyone has access to high-quality, affordable health care.
We need health care when we are sick or injured. We need health insurance because very few people can pay for the cost of a major illness or surgery out of pocket. When circumstances keep people from having insurance, people live sicker and die sooner.
Health care is a basic human right.United Methodist Social Principles, ¶162.V
Unlike many countries, the United States has the resources to provide the assurance that every person, regardless of age, gender, location, poverty, or disability can receive the preventive and curative services they need.
Currently health insurance coverage is largely provided through employer-sponsored coverage for working people and their families. Americans also access subsidized insurance in government-sponsored marketplaces or exchanges for low income working people, through Medicare for those over 65, and Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program for the poor. Despite this, 11 percent of Americans have been unable to obtain insurance coverage.
Many groups are at disproportionate risk of being uninsured, lacking access to care, and experiencing worse health outcomes, including people of color and low-income individuals. Health care disparities should be addressed so that communities of color can live healthier lives.
What the Bible and The United Methodist Church Say:
The Bible makes both personal and government responsibility for the wellbeing of others clear. Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, God condemns the leaders of Israel for failing to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, or bind up the injured. (Ezekiel 34:4) Jesus, often known to us as “Christ the Great Physician” went further when addressing those blessed with resources, as the United States is: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48)
The United Methodist Church has affirmed every four years at its General Conferences that “Health care is a basic human right.” (Social Principles, ¶162.V) To make that right real for all, the United Methodist Church affirms that government should pay for health care in the same way that we pay for police and fire protection. That is, “through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities.” (Social Principles, ¶162.V)
The positions taken by the United Methodist Church stand in direct contrast to competing ideologies affirmed by some in the public square, that health care is a consumer good that should be available only to those who can pay for it, and who seek to reduce the funds expended by the federal government for those who need care but do not have the resources themselves to pay for it. We believe that the words of God spoken by Ezekiel against the rulers of Israel are an equally valid message to the rulers of today.
Three Things You Can Do:
- Call your member of Congress. We’ve created this guide to help you make the phone calls.
- Talk about these issues with members of your congregations. We’ve created this worksheet to help you reflect biblically and theologically about health care.
- Find others in your community with whom you can share both your passion for others’ health care and the ability to develop strategies for local efforts.
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What you can do
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