NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ObamaCare Creates Moral Dilemma

March 6, 2013

Despite heated political rhetoric, a broad consensus across the political spectrum holds that modern societies have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that all members of society have access to the medical care they need. Figuring out how to structure a system to accomplish that, and navigating the various moral and ethical considerations involved with that, is quite complex, says Edmund Haislmaier, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow.

  • It is questionable whether the health care system should finance new therapies like artificial contraception, assisted reproduction, sex-change treatments, genetic therapies, therapeutic cloning and potential therapies derived from embryonic stem cells.
  • Just as there is a debate over whether public funds should be used to pay for an abortion, private health care also struggles with the same moral and ethical debate.
  • With 58.4 percent of the non-elderly U.S. population still covered by employment-based health insurance, the burden of deciding which procedures are standard or culturally acceptable has been transferred from individuals and employers to the government under the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare").

ObamaCare essentially commandeers existing private resources and compels individuals to engage in government-specified transactions. The result is a shift in authority, which brings with it increased federal government regulation of private health care coverage.

  • The government will now have sweeping powers to decide what benefits policies are required and to penalize employers with more than 50 employees for not offering coverage.
  • One ethical issue that will arise out of these sweeping powers is whether the government will require employers and individuals to pay for and facilitate contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
  • Employers averse to offering these morally-questionable procedures might opt to offer the equivalent of health care coverage back to their employees in wages but would then be subject to a $2,000 fine.
  • For conscientious employees required by law to obtain insurance on their own, all the plans available to them would cover the questionable procedures as mandated by the government.

One solution to this problem would be to add a conscience exemption to the law that would allow individuals and employers to escape government-mandated benefits. The fact that the new government mandates will create challenges for people's moral beliefs is more evidence that the underlying government takeover of health care was poorly conceived.

Source: Edmund Haislmaier, "The Complexities of Providing Health Insurance," Heritage Foundation, February 25, 2013.


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