Of all the reasons to oppose the Affordable Care Act, popularly labeled Obamacare, one stands out: the soulless nature of the law. It is ironic that a system that claims to be so humane in its intention would be so inhuman in its application.
However, by becoming the master plan to solve all health problems, the law has led to the construction of a gigantic machine. As a result, Obamacare is, and is increasingly perceived as, cold and impersonal; mechanical and inflexible.
Inside the text of this massive law and its 20,000 pages of regulations (so far), medicine loses that human element that is so essential to its practice. It becomes mechanized medicine, digitized medicine, and standardized medicine detached from the day-to-day reality of life and death in America. The law imposes itself upon the nation like a straitjacket showing little regard for human emotion or sentiment.
Such soullessness comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of medicine. Medicine is the art of healing organic bodies, not the fixing of mechanical machines. Real health care cannot be confused with engineering or mechanics. People cannot be treated like engines. The human body is a highly complex and mysterious organism that does not always fit into neat categories. Key to the proper healing of the body is also the consideration of the human soul.
Something of this consideration is lost by the law’s myriad provisions. The setting up of massive exchanges introduces a mechanical element into the health relationship that turns health insurance into maintenance contracts for the body. Doctors are forced to categorize the patient’s illnesses into tens of thousands of neatly defined categories that don’t always exist in real life. Services are assigned not on relationships of trust but upon recognition of being members of health networks.
Massive regulations overwhelm the lone doctor who can survive only by joining networks or large groups that have the resources to comply with the law’s heavy bureaucratic burden and forced digitalization of records. The art of healing is reduced to a mechanical framework of medical tests, procedures and paperwork overseen by an omnipresent government.
In this massive transformation of medicine, there is also a denial of the medical vocation. The doctor is not a simple technician that can be employed interchangeably with others. Rather medicine is a vocation, a calling and a profession. Those called to this vocation sense within themselves a sacred obligation to help and heal those who are suffering and dying. It imposes upon the doctor the obligation of treating each patient with modesty, dignity and respect.
For medicine to work, there must be a sacred trust between doctor and patient that inspires confidence and good will. When a third party enters into the relationship, that trust is compromised. When that third party is the federal government, it is shattered.
When medicine is turned into a big machine, medicine ceases to be a vocation. Health workers see what they do as a paycheck not a profession. Medicine loses its soul.
Finally, by setting itself up as the primary caregiver of all, Obamacare arrogates to itself a role that is not its own. In a truly organic and Christian society, the primary caregiver is not the State but the family. The family is the heart and soul of good health.
Most minor health problems can be resolved inside the family without cost to the health establishment. Inside the family, everyone from tender children to elderly parents finds spiritual comfort, psychological well-being and physical care. The family environment is proven to be much healthier than those who live outside it. It is around this affectionate relationship that a true health policy must be constructed.
However, by hardwiring and mandating contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients into healthcare plans, Obamacare actively pursues a policy that promotes sexual promiscuity and increases the probability of failed relationships, depression, and single parenthood. This in turn broadens the role of the State which picks up the pieces of (and pays the health bills from) these failed relationships. Moreover, by granting federal subsidies that create a marriage penalty favoring couples living outside the bonds of marriage, the new health care law works against the very institution that sustains health in America.
The result is a plan that will not work. When a healthcare plan centers on the individual and assumes responsibility for all types of unhealthy lifestyles and choices, it cannot be sustained. Indeed, there is not enough money in all the world to cover the health costs for a society given to instant gratification and unrestrained passion. Such a policy can only have recourse to distributing the burden of these unhealthy choices unfairly upon the healthy who practice restraint and self-discipline.
As described in my book, Return to Order, any solution must be in accordance with the nature of man. “Solutions cannot be imposed upon a people as if they are machines. We must avoid the modern mechanistic systems of order and rigid planning. Instead counting on God’s grace, we must recognize and respect the organic nature of man, full of vivacity, spontaneity and unpredictability.”
That means having recourse not to a single system but “allowing an enormous variety of legitimate solutions that adapt to the inequality found in man, peoples and the differing circumstances of life.”
Above all, the human element must return to medicine. The family must be promoted as primary caregiver. Medicine must be given back its soul.