I am a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I grew up in East Tennessee and both of my parents were health professionals. My mother is 85 years old, still living, and doesn’t understand why we need a government sponsored health care, or expanded Medicaid in the state of Tennessee. As I understand it, and explained to her— because this is not the same world she and my dad worked in. Healthcare is UNAFFORDABLE to the average working person.
I have a friend who has worked his entire life. He had a good job, a college degree, a 401K, a house, and savings. In 2009, his company downsized and he lost his job. He was unable to get health insurance because he had a pre-existing condition.—- high blood pressure. He was able to secure, at a very high cost, a catastrophic health plan. He went to the ER with chest pains and when he asked how much the cost would be, was told—aren’t you glad you have catastrophic healthcare—normally with no insurance we would charge you 50,000 for all this—but because you have a health plan, the cost to you will only be 9,000.
The definition of morality is the “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” Our morality is derived from a standard that we believe should be universal. The word morality is synonymous with “Goodness” or “rightness.” And so we express our moral system by the merits of our actions. One philosophy that we observe in establishing morality in contemporary society is the Golden Rule, “Do Unto Others as You would have Others Do Unto You.”
The issues of health care reform brings important moral and ethical issues of justice to the forefront of society as individuals and communities and our legislatures seek to find ways to provide quality health care for the many without sacrificing the basic rights of the few.
Frederick Douglass said “Where Justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one group of people is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, no one is safe.”
The rise in cost of health care has not allowed many individuals to safely and abundantly live in contemporary society in the United States.
In his book A Theory of Justice, the philosopher John Rawls argues for a moral and logical society through “the most fortunate helping the least fortunate.” He believes that liberty is carefully balanced with individual rights and the overall good of society with special emphasis on making the worst off as well as they can be.
In my faith tradition, we believe that God created all humans in God’s image. God gave us stewardship over all of God’s creation that God loves. There is no one person, or even one group of people who are considered more “deserving” of God’s love and care, which as stewards becomes our love and care.
When I seek to weigh the morality of a particular situation or concept, I ask myself the question, does this promote the dignity of all persons— created in the image of God? Social injustice occurs when all people are not treated with equal moral concern.
Jesus said, “ I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” As more and more people are unable to afford healthcare because of the rising costs, and as limited or no coverage for preventative and wellness care is available, it is very difficult for individuals, and thus for our society, to pursue abundant life and thrive.
Rev. Jane Taylor, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Johnson City, TN.
Presented at Insure TN Town Hall Meeting in Johnson City, May 20, 2015