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One nation under God

God, Country, Notre Dame | Monday, December 9, 2013

Often times, trying to find visible evidence of the hand of God working in our nation’s political system appears to be a hopeless endeavor. Despite a few technical difficulties with the Healthcare.gov website, where Americans can browse prices and rates for medical insurance as an individual, family or business owner, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare”, has its pitfalls, but definitely has valuable points that will help many people obtain health care.
While the upholding of the HHS mandate, which requires health care plans to deliver coverage for all FDA approved contraceptives as “preventive health services for women” for no cost, introduces complications to health insurance and ethical concerns, it is often confused or lumped in with Obamacare, but the two are two different entities. Thus, in my statements about Obamacare, I do not include the horrendous, unconstitutional, immoral and sinful stipulations of the HHS mandate in this discussion. Thankfully, Our Lady’s University has this month re-filed the lawsuits against these immoral and, what I consider, unethical forces of health care.
Moving forward after that important distinction and clarification, Obamacare may be one of the greatest tangible actions of the Obama Administration that seeks to establish social justice and equity with an important attention to the common good along with a special focus for poorer Americans and those marginalized in our society. However, there is much confusion about the provisions as well as the documented debacle of the registration process. Specific principles of Catholic Social Teaching that Obamacare appears to address are Solidarity, the Dignity of Each Human Person, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Rights and Responsibilities and the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. While the launching of healthcare.gov with technical issues may not be the brightest moment of the Obama administration, the thought, ideology, moral and ethics behind Obamacare represents a great step towards a greater dignity and respect for all Americans. 
Statistically speaking according to a report from the Census Bureau on health insurance, there were approximately 48 million Americans who did not have medical insurance in the United States. According to the report, a small minority of these uninsured individuals choose not have medical insurance. The overwhelming majority of these uninsured individuals listed that they did not have health insurance because they simply could not afford health coverage. Some individuals who had health care coverage before, but due to losing a job had lost health insurance coverage as well. Additionally, many individuals who have a pre-existing medical condition seeking to get an affordable health insurance plan cannot as they are either denied access all together or are offered prices too high for the individual to afford. A significant percentage of uninsured Americans are children. Obamacare seeks to effectively provide insurance for these people who are left out in the “supply and demand” capitalistic economic market for health insurance.
How could anyone possibly object to this service? Is it not our duty as Americans to take care of our fellow citizens? Is it not our duty as Christians to be our sister’s and brother’s keeper? We live in a giving society. It is our human nature to help others. So why is the debate over health care such a difficult topic to discuss? We all know that health care is an important necessity in our society. Yet, have we found the right formula of affordability, convenience, reliability and cost-effectiveness? Probably not, but we owe it to everyone in need to give it a try and work together for the common good. It is a hard time for America for many reasons. Lack of affordable health care and increasing poverty are part of the equation.
Yet, just providing affordable health insurance does not solve all the problems. Yes, it will be a support for many, but we need to focus on the common good for all, mentally, spiritually and physically. It is important to remember that just maybe Obamacare will be an instrument for someone and their family to improve themselves in these areas. Isn’t that what we are striving for? A quality of life that gives us a balance of happiness as children of God would be nice for all of us to achieve. And, don’t we ultimately want that for others? This would all take time and, with the grace of God, we will be able to help others lead more productive lives with endless opportunities, just as we have here at Notre Dame. But, we need to be patient, us as the givers as well as the receivers. Although it might take time to measure the results of Obamacare, hopefully individuals will have a sense of some immediate relief in getting their pertinent health care needs met.
In light of Christian beliefs and morals operating under the idea that all human life deserves dignity and respect, it is interesting to reflect on the idea that anyone anywhere is even forced to pay for medical procedures and coverage. For, in a sense, by charging for these services we put a price on human life, human life which is a priceless gift from the great God above in heaven. In putting a price on human life, we limit people from saving themselves or loved ones. Who will then redeem these people from the price our economic system has put on their head? This question unfortunately will have to be answered another time. For now, let’s see what impact Obamacare has on the economy and welfare of our people. Let’s be true to our words, being one nation, under God.

Carter Boyd is a sophomore studying science-business. He can be reached at cboyd1@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.