The United Methodist Church has been a strong advocate for a comprehensive health care system that includes access for all, quality care, and effective management of costs.
General Conference charged the General Board of Church and Society with the “primary responsibility for advocating health care for all in the United States Congress and for communicating this policy to United Methodists in the USA.”
“From our earliest days United Methodists have believed that providing health care to others is an important duty of Christians. John Wesley found ways to offer medical services at no cost to the poor in London. The first Methodist Social Creed (adopted in 1908) urged working conditions to safeguard the health of workers and community.
“The provision of health care for all without regard to status or ability to pay is portrayed in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:24-35) as the duty of every neighbor and thus of every person.
In a conversation that began with the question of how one might obtain eternal life, Jesus asserted that one must love God and one’s neighbor. In response to the next question as to who one’s neighbor is, Jesus portrayed a Samaritan, an outsider, who, coming upon a wounded traveler, provided him with health care. Jesus portrayed the duty to provide health care as…
(1) one that is owed regardless of the merit or ethnicity of the person in need;
(2) one that is owed to the limit of one’s economic capacity – the Samaritan told the innkeeper, “Take care of him; and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs” (v. 35); and
(3) a duty that one neglects at the peril of one’s eternal life.
In a democracy, our duty to our neighbor merges with the duties that the Hebrew scriptures assign to government: the prophet Ezekiel denounced the leaders of ancient Israel whose failure of responsible government included failure to provide health care: “you don’t strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost; but instead you use force to rule them with injustice” (Ezekiel 34:4).
The United Methodist Church therefore affirms in our Social Principles (¶ 162V) health care as a basic human right and affirms the duty of government to assure health care for all.”