Here’s a comment I made on Thomas’s post about healthcare:
I’ve wondered about that and often felt frustrated about my inability. Unfortunately, the culture of health insulation (a more accurate term than "insurance") has allowed prices to rise so high that it is simply not feasible for a church to simply share medical expenses. One problem is that the necessity of certain procedures is questionable–do I really need this test? If I’m not paying for it, of course I do! If I am, then–eh, maybe not. The rationing that naturally occurs within a market is difficult, partly because we don’t have a market for health care, and partly because most consumers don’t have expert knowledge of which services are necessary and which are borderline or frivolous.
From what I’ve read, the problem seems to go back to WWII when wages were frozen by gov’t; employers improved fringe benefits to entice workers. After the war these benefits stayed and (this is key) became tax exempt. If congress made fringe benefits offered by employers–retirement, health insurance–taxable, and instead passed on that value as an income tax credit, we would see more of a market for insurance plans, particularly cheaper plans with high deductables and catastrophic coverage (think SafeAuto). Congress should also do its job according to the Constitution and "regulate" (i.e., "make regular") trade between the states by forcing states to allow the purchase of health insurance policies across state lines.
The problem is we’ve had a race to the top of the industry and no variegation in coverage and price. Now those who have insurance pay nothing (so they think) and use too much and those who don’t have insurance are sunk.
So, back to the original question, Thomas: I don’t think we can do much, except pray, help individuals find jobs with insurance, and lobby our public officials to loosen some of these chokeholds on the industry.
What a downer.