With Liberty, Justice, and Health Care For All
One of the things that weighs heavily on the family budget is the cost of health care: insurance premiums, co-pays, doctor bills. But for the estimated 47 million Americans without health insurance, the possibility of a family member’s needing major medical care is indeed frightening.
Since President Truman’s term of office during the 1940s, there has been talk of making health care available to all Americans. Unfortunately, our country has not been able to come to a consensus on how to make this a reality. The topic has once again come to the fore as we approach the 2008 election.
Many Catholics are not aware that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the dignity of every human person includes the right to necessary health care. Of course, connected to that right is our responsibility to take proper care of ourselves. For example, suppose a physician tells us that our eating habits are increasing the possibility of a heart attack, which is then confirmed by a blood test. Are we morally obliged to make changes in our diet? When does foolishness become sinful negligence?
Most of us have heard people say, “How I take care of myself is my business, not God’s. We are all going to die. What difference does it make if I die sooner or later?” That attitude is not just foolish; it neglects several responsibilities. For one, we need to consider our spouse and/or children or other loved ones who will have to take care of us if we have a heart attack, stroke, or other disease as a result of neglecting our doctor’s recommendation.