Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Health Saving Accounts - A Christian Perspective?

Tonight's State of the Union speech has been billed a bit of a downer and I'm not going to get up at 2 a.m. to watch President Bush drone on about whatever it is that he is going to say about foreign policy (I'm pretty clear on what he wants, but don't talk to me until Donald Rumsfeld has been fired) or on several of the domestic front policies he wants to try. The trial balloons that have been floated so far don't inspire me to give up several hours of perfectly good sleep next to Mrs. Expat Teacher.

One thing seems almost certain to be in the SOTU...Health Savings Accounts.

I'm not going to spend any time talking about the problems with them because that has already been done at the Washington Post, "The Next Policy Bungle"

And at the Center for American Progress with these points about the Truth about Health Savings Acccounts
  • HSAs will do little to control rising health care costs
  • HSAs have failed to work in other countries.
  • HSA users will be more likely to skip necessary treatments to avoid the high costs
  • HSAs will do nothing to address the increasing number of uninsured Americans

However, my question is this...is there a Christian perspective on Health Savings Accounts (HSA)? I'm neither a Biblical scholar nor a health care policy wonk so please correct me on this, but it seems that HSAs are not in keeping with the spirit of Christian teaching.

The basic fundamental point of HSAs is that the individual takes the risk. Rather than spreading risk out throughout a population, each person is now responsible for their health care and treatment. Since we really don't know who will get what diseases, it seems like quite a risk for each person to take on themselves. Some will get lucky and not have any health problems all their lives. Unfortunately, some will develop chronic diseases that will drastically alter their life. Others will develop diseases and die. We don't know into which category we will go. Therefore, doesn't it make sense to share the risk with others?

In Galatians 6:2, Paul writes, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." From a Christian perspective, I don't see how HSAs meet that commandment. In fact, they seem to move us away from it.

What do you think?