I’m one of those 50-odd million Americans who don’t have health insurance, and this has been true for most of my life. It’s not entirely by choice, and I understand that insuring one’s self and family against a catastrophic incident can be the responsible and mature thing to do. But it’s not a guarantee that everything will be all right no matter what happens, and I suspect that’s how Americans have come to see “healthcare” over the last 30 years or so.
In short, it’s become a bit of a fetish. Faith is built in to human nature, and as faith in God (as an actual, consequential Being) declines, our capacity for trust and belief wanders through waterless places until it finds a substitute. It has to go somewhere, and if people no longer trust and believe God they will extol the saving power of something else: books, education, stories, the arts, a political figure, or a political philosophy. Obamacare was conceived and constructed on faith that a benign government can provide all its subjects’ most pressing needs—a foundation that is now exposed as sand.
Obamacare was written and amended and passed in a haze of magical thinking, as if making a law can make something happen. Washington has operated in this sort of haze for a long time, at least since the Environmental Protection Act, but the so-called Affordable Care Act is the crowning achievement of federal alchemy. It defies all logic that a 2,000-page document cobbled together by congressional staffers, debated by 535 representatives who didn’t fully know what was in it, promoted by a president who will say anything, and farmed out to the Internal Revenue Service to be implemented could ever result in anything but massive confusion.
Yural Levin, former White House staffer and National Review writer, spent some time with officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, which is responsible for running the Obamacare exchanges) and reported on the shell shock that reigns there: Nobody expected the website rollout to be quite this bad, and nobody knows just how bad it is. Or what it will take to fix it, though all agree it will take more than the five weeks the government is promising.
In a representative democracy, ultimately the people are responsible for their leaders, and the people have been as inattentive as the leaders. The fear factor built into “health” insurance (actually sickness and accident insurance) is real potent—I’ve felt it myself. A thousand “what-if’s” frame our daily lives, and no one is guaranteed anything—not even Job, a righteous man whose charmed life appeared to be surrounded by a divine hedge (Job 1:10). I understand the need for so-called health insurance. But our real insurance is God Himself.