One of the culture shocks I experienced when I came to America from the UK six or so years ago was having to fork out for health insurance every month. Of course, in the UK health care is “free.” (Which means you pay twice as much for half the service, but you don’t notice it because it’s deducted via general taxation.)

In fact, not only did I have to fork out a monthly premium, but the insurance didn’t even kick in until I had paid $5000 in medical bills! However, I now realize that I got off pretty lightly then as my monthly premium was only $280 per month for a family of six.

Over the last two years, my premium has risen rapidly up to $800 per month a year ago, and now close to $1000 per month, the last two hikes due largely to Obamacare requirements. And I still have to pay the first few thousands of any bills!

Priceless Healthcare
I have to say though, that the healthcare we’ve received here has been of an incredibly high standard. While I’m so thankful for the amazing work medical professionals do in the UK, they just don’t have the time or the resources to offer the kind of care we get here. Grand Rapids hospitals are space age, the technology is at the cutting edge, the waiting times are virtually nil, and the staff have the time to care, which is absolutely priceless.

Expensive Healthcare
But, if the disastrous first month of Obamacare is anything to go by, it looks like American health care is going to end up costing a lot more, while the availability and quality of care is going to be significantly reduced.

A small minority will benefit, including the very poor and those with pre-existing conditions. However, as usual, the majority of the hardworking middle classes are going to take a huge financial hit, with premiums and deductibles rising on average 25%, and in some cases doubling, as millions are being forced into government plans despite the President’s oft-repeated promise that would not happen.

And most families just don’t have the money.

Rejected Healthcare
Americans are relatively well-paid, but as is the case everywhere, most families live to the very edge of their income and only have a couple of hundred dollars free every month to save up for special treats, car repairs, vacations, family trips, birthdays, college fees, etc. Obamacare’s premiums and deductibles are going to swallow up that small cushion, month after month after month.

Many can’t do it. Many won’t do it. They’ll simply refuse to pay the premiums and take the risk. Others will go into debt trying to maintain their previous lifestyle and pay the premiums. The remainder will pay the premiums but have nothing left over for life’s little luxuries. They all end up in the same place, increased costs and reduced health – both physically and psychologically.

Gospel Healthcare
What can Christians and the church do in this situation? First, confess our sin of omission. It’s tragic that Christian conservatives have not led the way in proposing legislation or designing healthcare programs that demonstrated practical love to the weakest in our society. We’re good at protesting against the evils of abortion and gay marriage; we’re not so good at providing for those who are impoverished by sickness and disease. The result? Under the guise of caring for the poor, the behemoth of Obamacare is changing the very nature of the relationship between the American people and their government, and also using the opportunity to impose social change and immoral values on individuals, families, and businesses.

Second, let’s be careful that when we oppose Obamacare, we don’t sound as if we could hardly care less about those who are sick, poor, and unable to afford or access health care. Although we must respect those whom God has set in authority over us and the laws they enact, that does not mean we should not argue against injustice and immorality in these laws. We are right to resist a bullying government’s intrusion into the most intimate parts of our lives. But when we do so, let’s sound a bit less selfish and a bit more loving towards those who desperately do need a safety net.

Third, teach financial stewardship to Christians. As premiums and deductibles rise higher and budgets tighten further, Christians are going to need regular and systematic biblical teaching on budgeting, planning, cutting expenses, etc. Future generations will need to learn much greater financial discipline than their parents. Dave Ramsey should do well out of Obamacare!

Fourth, pray for contentment. Yes, most of us will have much less money in our pockets. We’ll have to cut out some sports, some fishing, some clubs, some technology, some vacations, some clothes, etc. But we’re not exactly going to be living in slums. This is an opportunity to display God-centered satisfaction with our lot in life and demonstrate to others how we have learned to be content whatever our financial state.

Fifth, preach the Gospel. Obamacare’s costs will end the American dream for many people. Others are never going to get a chance at it. That’s really sad; yet it’s also an opportunity. In the midst of the evaporating mirage of prosperity we have the water of life to offer thirsty and disillusioned people. We have the Great Doctor who came to heal the sick of their deepest disease and who offers His services for free (Luke 5:31-32).

  • Chris

    I would suggest getting out of the secular healthcare system and use a healthcare sharing ministry like Samaritans. Less money. Ideally, within every body of believers we should be covering each others needs and not relying on a secular company or government to care for us. If the Amish and the Menninites can do it, so can the rest of us. Once we take care of the household of God, then we can care for those in need around us.


    • Gordon

      Legislation, executive fiats, court rulings prevent what you suggest. Americans no longer have the option of choosing the plan (course of action) that they think best for themselves.

      • Brian Rollins

        What Chris suggests (healthcare sharing) is, at least at this point, a valid, biblical option. These sharing ministries are exempt from the ridiculous mandate. We joined Samaritan recently, and so far I’m very impressed with the whole concept.

        • Gordon

          Yes, but you’re still going to have to participate in Obamacara, if it is only paying the fine for not participating.

          • Brian Rollins

            No, I won’t be participating in Obamacare at all. Christian sharing ministries are excluded, so there’s no fine levied. At least that’s the situation today. Sorry for getting slightly off topic…

    • Daniel Radke

      Dear Chris,

      I would join a healthcare sharing ministry like Samaritans if I could. But you see, I can’t. The reason? I have a pre-existing health condition. None of the sharing ministries I have looked into (including Samaritans) will accept me into their program because of my pre-existing condition. None of them will “share” my burden. I understand economically why they don’t. But, they cannot claim to be fully biblical, because they are simply not. The example of believers meeting needs people had in Acts 2 and 4 did not merely include the healthy, and exclude the sick and needy. Precisely the opposite. So, whenever I hear ads for Samaritans (or some other “Christian sharing” ministry), I cannot help but remember their inherent hypocrisy. I wish it weren’t so.

      • Chris


        I understand your dilemma. I personally believe the most biblical model is for each local church to care for the needs of others (more oversight, more accountability, more in tune with the exact needs of the body). This is genuine Christianity in action. If not the local body, then a regional denomination/parish/presbytery/conference and if that fails the national denomination. I am convinced that most churches can care for the physical and financial needs of others if all are truly willing to give up and give of themselves. This may include selling the big church building to do so.

        Also, have you tried Christian Healthcare Ministries?

        They say on their site: “No one is dropped or denied participation due to medical conditions.”

        My understanding is, Samaritans and MediShare came out of Christian Healthcare Ministries…but I that is only what I heard.

        Hope that helps.

        In Christ,


  • Danielle

    It’s just not true that in the UK you spend twice as much and get half as much. The UK government spends the same amount per person on healthcare as the American government. Then Americans citizens pay about the same amount out of pocket. So it’s the US that pays twice as much.

    And you don’t get half as much in the UK, either. Life span and other measures are pretty much equal between the countries. Yeah, it’s shinier and more high-tech in the US, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as better.

    But I totally agree with your assessment that Christian Conservatives ought to be the ones leading the way on this issue. I’ve been without insurance for about a year and I’ve found the Conservative indifference on this issue to be insulting and irritating.

    • Gordon

      It is irrelevant to American citizens whether or not the UK (or Canada) have better and less expensive medical care systems. Americans live in a constitutional republic and our constitution does not authorize the Federal government to be involved in the medical care system, irrespective of the fact that all three branches (legislative, executive and judicial)do so knowingly.

  • Pingback: Morning Mashup 11/6 | Theology Matters

  • Gordon

    David, it is interesting that the current “Obamacare” situation is the results of unintended consequences that have roots in WWII. That’s when companies, because they were not allow to raise wages, introduced paid for medical “insurance”, which resulted in a third party paying for medical cost rather than the patient. So today, Obama, wants the government to be the only third-party payer and thereby controlling both the medical service available and the costs. In short, Obamacare will allow the federal government to control 20% of the US economy and thus it is about restricting the freedom of the citizens. Once Obamacare is in place, the next target for control will be major elements of the digital age. Nevertheless, I’m simply a sojourner, an old one at that, “…looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God”(Heb 11:10).

  • Steven

    We’ll only start sounding like we care when we actually start caring, despite the feigned attempts we will undoubtedly hear from the right. That we simply have not been invested in the cause of the poor and vulnerable in our society is the very factor that I’m afraid accounts for the lack of legislative work to that end from the political right.

  • Pingback: This and That – 11-09-13 | The Thompsonian Times

  • anna

    Hi Dr. Murray, I appreciate your desire to speak on relevant topics of the day. I know coming from the UK, as you explained, gives you a different perspective to our system. Also, I do understand that many people haven’t really thought things through clearly; but I have a few questions.
    What’s the main issue going on in our country — our healthcare or a complete overhaul of the laws and liberties of this land?
    You stated indirectly that Obamacare would help the extreme poor. Does Obama really care for the poor? Aren’t the poor already accepted for treatment in hospitals today? I know personally that they are.
    Are we really good at “protesting against the evils of abortion” when we buy insurance mandated under Obamacare to support it and many other evils. How is that good stewardship for a Christian?
    You say, “Although we must respect those whom God has set in authority over us and the laws they enact, that does not mean we should not argue against injustice and immorality in those laws.” Should we respect lawless men who circumvent the law of the land to pass their own agendas? Should we respect “the throne of iniquity which frameth mischief by a law.” Ps. 94:20 Would it not be better for “we the people” to hold these men accountable now?
    You tell us, “Let’s sound a bit less selfish and a bit more loving towards those who do need a safety net.” A safety net in Obamacare? Does not the Bible teach, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man?” Jeremiah 17:5 How can Christians bless that which is already cursed; and where does their safety lie?
    Again, you say, “It’s tragic that Christians conservatives have not led the way in proposing legislation or designing healthcare programs that demonstrate practical love to the weakest in our society.” How does one legislate love? How can you force men to love? Do lawless and ungodly politicians really know love better than the Christian?
    Is not this socialism rather an economic fruit of humanism which has been taught and embraced in our public institutions? And will not the end result of this religion be death panels? How can we as Christians continue in that?
    How can we be good stewards, good environmentalists, good Christians if we support a system that exalts the murderer, the rapist, and the thief by redefining the terms? Would it not be better stewardship to place our money in our own congregations’ healthcare with money leftover for those in the community with sincere need? Is not the church more accountable for the poor than the government is? Shouldn’t love extend from the pulpit rather than “legislated” by the White House? Should not Christians sacrifice for individuals rather than a system? I know that you do sacrifice for people, but I just don’t fully understand why people stand ready to support such monstrosity.

  • Pingback: Link Love | Sayable