WWJI: Who would Jesus insure?


I first asked this question in 2009 during the months in which Congress debated the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare).

I was struggling with the irony of religious conservatives, who have a sordid history of trying to force religion into medicine, rejecting the effort to provide health insurance for all Americans. I wondered what they thought Jesus would do when faced with a similar situation.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It is impossible to imagine Jesus declaring: “I’m here to relieve all your suffering … except for your pre-existing leprosy.” [/pullquote]

Now as religious Conservative seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act, I’m still struggling.

When faced with the prospect of depriving tens of millions of people of affordable healthcare access, what would Jesus do? WWJI? Who would Jesus Insure?*

According to religious conservatives, Jesus does not allow abortions, so laws should prevent abortion, or, failing that, should place innumerable roadblocks in the way of women who want abortions.

According to religious conservatives, Jesus wants all life to be preserved, so they mustered a public campaign to prevent Terri Schiavo’s husband from honoring her wishes and allowing her to die instead of continue on in a vegetative state.

According to religious conservatives, Jesus considers homosexuality to be an abomination, so discrimination against gay people should be enshrined in law.

Since they appear to believe that medical decisions (even other people’s medical decisions) should be made with regard to what Jesus would want, what do they think Jesus would want?

I’m no theologian, but I feel confident that Jesus would not approve of taking affordable healthcare away from tens of millions and going back to the health insurance system prior to the ACA.


Would Jesus tie health insurance to employment? I doubt it. He made manifest his concern for the poor and downtrodden, so it is doubtful that he would want their miseries magnified by denying them access to healthcare.

Would Jesus allow pre-existing conditions to be exempted? Not likely. He ministered to the sick without regard for how long they had been sick before he arrived. It is impossible to imagine him declaring: “I’m here to relieve your suffering, except for your pre-existing leprosy.”

Would Jesus consider it a priority to preserve existing insurance companies? Would he reject a public option for health insurance because it threatened the profits of insurance giants? Once again, not likely. He would not put profits ahead of the life and health of innocent people.

Who would Jesus insure? The conclusion is inescapable. He would insure everyone. He would insist that it was the moral responsibility of those who have health insurance to make it available to those who don’t. And the way we do that is by providing a public option for health insurance, exactly the same option that the elderly now enjoy.

So I have a suggestion. For those who believe that we should make healthcare decisions based on what Jesus would do, how about making healthcare insurance decisions based on what Jesus would do? Obamacare may be anathema to religious conservatives, but it is impossible to deny that his plan for healthcare reform bears the closest resemblance to what Jesus would do.

WWJI: Who would Jesus insure? Everyone, of course.

There’s a word for religious conservatives who want to repeal the ACA: hypocrites.


* I know that is “whom would Jesus insure” is grammatically correct, but “who would Jesus insure” sounds better.

124 Responses to “WWJI: Who would Jesus insure?”

  1. Cody
    January 18, 2017 at 10:22 am #


  2. Steph858
    January 14, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    Just a little reminder about that offer I made on behalf of the UK to the US to become a British Colony again. To sweeten the deal, we’ll roll out our NHS across the US; you can use it under the same terms as Brits once you’ve signed on the dotted line*.

    * “The same terms” includes terms of taxation: the wealthiest people and/or corporations in the US may have to pay more tax in order for US citizens to qualify for Universal Healthcare.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      January 16, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

      No thanks. I’ve seen your politicians and I’m not impressed. Brexit should have been the rashest act any English speaking electorate visited on themselves in 2016 except…well, sorry, but you lost that title after holding it for only a few months. Also, the way your politicians are gutting the NHS you’re going to be in much the same shape as the uS soon.

      Now, surrendering to Canada in acknowledgement of the defeat in 1812, that I could get behind. Except that I can’t imagine that Canada would want 330 million more Albertans. I don’t suppose there’s any chance that the Netherlands would want to take Manhattan back. I mean, the Dutch are getting a little xenophobic but they’re still kinda sorta rational…

      OTOH, if you do decide to take the US back while it is too distracted by internal chaos to fight back, all I can say about that “higher taxes” threat is BRING IT! Taxes in the US are too damn low, at least on the rich.

      • Steph858
        January 17, 2017 at 9:48 am #

        Fair points. Though one cause for my optimism is the fact that even the Tories daren’t privatise the NHS outright. Sure, they try to privatise bits and pieces here and there, but they have to do it by stealth and hope that noone notices; to openly bring in the US system where the insured MIGHT get treated if some archaic clause in the small print of their agreement doesn’t disqualify them and the uninsured are just left to die would be political suicide over here. It’s a stark contrast: over here, the view of the vast majority is that “You can take my Universal Healthcare from my cold, dead hands.”

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          January 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

          Well, okay, but only if you keep your promise of higher taxes. If you don’t up the tax rate on the wealthy I’m going to have to dump some tea into the harbor.

  3. EmbraceYourInnerCrone
    January 12, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    For anyone who thought they wouldn’t do it:

    And so it begins: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/01/republicans-except-for-rand-paul-vote-to-gut-obamacare-in-the-dead-of-night/

    “Republicans in the Senate took a major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday night, while simultaneously voting down proposed amendments to make sure people with preexisting conditions could still get coverage”

    • Madtowngirl
      January 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

      I saw this, too. I am so sick over this.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        January 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

        I’ve already told my college senior daughter to get all of her possible preventative checkups and needed immunizations as soon as she can this winter/spring. Currently she is covered until she is 26 even once she graduates, if she has no job or has a job that doesn’t offer health insurance. If that part of the ACA gets repealed she is not covered. Same for her dental, I told her to get anything that can or needs to be done now while she can.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      January 12, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

      Who thought they wouldn’t do it? I expected them to do it. You think they care?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      January 12, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

      Question, though: Does the Senate no longer have the cloture process? I thought you needed 60 votes to get something to the floor for a vote?

      • Nick Sanders
        January 13, 2017 at 10:40 am #

        That’s only if the other side is filibustering.

  4. Cody
    January 11, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    Lol, as silly as this post is, it’s far too logical for it to be taken seriously by the religious fundamentalists.

  5. no longer drinking the koolaid
    January 11, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Among the seven deadly sins is gluttony.
    Using the far right, conservative religious thinking, there appear to be a lot of Christians who should be refused medical care for heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes related to their gluttony.
    However, an exception should be made for diagnosed medical etiologies.

  6. Sarah
    January 11, 2017 at 5:58 am #

    I disagree with you, Dr T. To the question “Who Would Jesus Insure”, I think the answer would be “nobody”. Because if Jesus were to design a healthcare system, I doubt very much it would involve insurance companies and premiums. It would be single payer/socialised/whatever label you want to put on a system that gives everybody equal access to whatever healthcare they need, whenever they need it, free at the point of use.

  7. Young CC Prof
    January 10, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Remember, folks, the planned repeal does NOT mean going back to the 2009 situation, it means something worse.

    Congress has proposed repealing the mandates and subsidies, but not the preexisting condition clause, which will pretty much trash the individual market by next enrollment period, sending premiums skyrocketing or driving companies out of the market entirely. There would be more uninsured than before the ACA went into effect.

    • Amazed
      January 10, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

      The people here might hear you but then again, most of them didn’t vote for the orange one anyway.

      I must admit I still can’t fathom how people can be against Obamacare.

      • January 11, 2017 at 9:42 am #

        Well, I can. The idea behind it is admirable, but the ACA itself is a lousy piece of legislation. It’s trying to be all things to all people, when the entire healthcare situation in the US should have been divided into a number of component parts, and each dealt with separately. Just one example: with healthcare facilities already in many places stretched to the limit, if millions more Americans are eligble for care, where are the facilities and staff going to come from? The ACA does not address this aspect at all.

        • January 11, 2017 at 10:35 am #

          The thing is, it was never supposed to fix everything. That wasn’t going to be politically possible. It was supposed to be a step in the right direction, and it was.
          I am all for strengthening it, changing what doesn’t work, and eventually getting to universal health care. But what I do not understand are people who are against Obamacare as the incremental, one-step-forward thing that it is and always was.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            January 11, 2017 at 10:43 am #

            And for all those people who rail against Socialised medicine/universal health care (including the Keep your government hands off my Medicare geniuses) please read the reactions to the idea of Medicare back in the day:

            Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]


          • Jo
            January 13, 2017 at 10:23 am #

            Well, interestingly, the masses love the ACA, but hate Obamacare. When told they’re the same thing, minds are blown.

    • Madtowngirl
      January 11, 2017 at 9:57 am #

      I admit that I haven’t been following the news behind their plans very well (it makes me too angry), but I did hear something about us putting money into glorified savings accounts? Really? Even if you put $500/month away, which I suspect your average American can’t afford, that’s only $6,000/year. That’s not going to cover shit if you need chemo/emergency surgery/pretty much anything aside from routine care.

      This is going to bankrupt even more people than before.

      • Gæst
        January 11, 2017 at 10:12 am #

        The bill for 8 days’ stay in the NICU was $40,000. For one baby. There were two.

        • FormerPhysicist
          January 12, 2017 at 6:55 am #

          That sounds cheap, actually. Day surgery, hospital bill was over $10K, not including surgeon or anesthesiologist.

          • Gæst
            January 12, 2017 at 10:56 am #

            I have nothing to compare it to. But neither child required surgery or anesthesia, so I’m not surprised. My own surgery bill was probably higher, but for some reason I never saw it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        January 11, 2017 at 10:22 am #

        It’s more complicated than that.

        We have an HSA plan. We used to not have an HSA plan, so I can compare them.

        With the HSA plan, we do pay higher deductables and more “out of pocket” than we did with our previous plan. However,

        1) Our premiums are much lower; less than half of what we had before.
        2) The money that goes into the HSA is basically the difference between our old premiums and our new ones. So the money we save on premiums goes toward paying the bills. We put away about $350/mo in the HSA, but we get a $1300/yr contribution from the employer, so about $5K total. However, that $350 in the past was paid in premium, so we don’t miss it.
        3) It is still an insurance plan, so we are paying negotiated rates for services, and we do get a lot of stuff covered.
        4) All the money that goes into the HSA is tax deductable, so long as we only use it on medical costs. It is not subject to the 5% floor for standard medical expenses. Therefore, unlike we had before, it means that all our prescription costs are deductable (because they are paid from the HSA), We can also deduct dental costs and the eye doctor. We couldn’t do that before, because those costs and co-pays never came close to the level needed.

        With this policy, this past year we were able to handle both a broken leg (wife) and a diagnostic (not screening) colonoscopy (me), without spending out the HSA (granted, we had roll-over from previous years, but that is intentional; our goal is to keep the HSA up to the level of our maximum payment, which is I think $8K)

        The HSA is working fine for us. In fact, it is a little better our old plan, because we only have to pay for services we use. It’s less insurance, but the caps make it so we can avoid the catastrophic issue.


        • mdstudentwithkids
          January 11, 2017 at 11:25 am #

          I also had an HSA before I had children when it was just me and my spouse. It worked for us, and I see benefits for some people. I actually liked having the cash because we didn’t use it for a couple years, then used it to pay a couple thousand in deductibles when my wife gave birth to twins (when we had “normal” insurance). However, I can imagine scenarios where a high deductible plan + HSA would put you in a very difficult situation. Any serious/longer term issue that uses your max payment/year but then extends into the next year (necessitating another max payment) could be devastating for a family. Especially if you need to take time off of work, have a drop in income and can’t refill that HSA quickly (you would also lose your employer contribution for that time). I see HSA/high deductible plans as an okay option if we keep the private insurance system but not at all a plan that would work for everyone and should not be marketed or presented that way.

        • Madtowngirl
          January 11, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

          Thanks for explaining that. It sounds like a reasonable plan for some people.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

            Yep. Some people, but not everyone.

        • crazy grad mama
          January 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

          We’ve also had an HSA plan for the past two years, and it works very well for us for much the same reasons. Being able to pay for prescriptions out of the HSA is really nice, as both my spouse and I use medications that would incur high ($80+) co-pays under our old insurance. And your #3 is an important point: with an HSA plan, you don’t pay the cash price for health care, you pay the insurance-negotiated price.

          But there are a couple of key factors that make our HSA plan functional that are not guaranteed in a post-ACA world:

          (1) Spouse’s employer contributes $4K to our HSA. Employers don’t *have* to contribute anything.

          (2) Preventative care is all still fully covered by the insurance, as required by the ACA. So my son’s well-child visits, vaccines, etc. don’t come out of the HSA.

          • MaineJen
            January 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

            But here’s the thing though: it’s still your money. It’s just a glorified, tax-free savings account. For people with plenty of extra money who can sock away a few hundred dollars a month, yeah, sure it sounds great.

            For most families including mine, socking away a few hundred dollars a month is a pipe dream. It would be MUCH less than that in reality, and it would be just another automatic deduction from a paycheck that’s already stretched too thin.

            And then…my husband’s hospitalization and surgery 4 years ago cost $60,000. After insurance we still owed a few thousand, but it was manageable. Same thing after my daughter’s hospitalization this past summer (total bill $10,000). How would that work with just an HSA+high deductible? I can’t think of a scenario in which we wouldn’t end up paying more out of pocket. A lot more.

            Somehow I’d still rather pay a slightly higher premium, for the peace of mind of knowing that all these things are at least partially covered. From what I’ve seen of the HSA plans that are offered where i work, the difference in cost isn’t enough to be worth it.

          • crazy grad mama
            January 12, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

            I totally agree, and I apologize if I gave the impression that I thought HSA plans were a good idea for everyone.

            (Although in our case, it’s actually not *our* money—it’s money from my spouse’s employer—which is one of the key reasons why an HSA works for us. But this of course means that our health care is tied to his employment, which is problematic for all the usual reasons plus the lack of employment protections for trans folk.)

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        January 11, 2017 at 10:34 am #

        Yes, some how the working poor are going to put money in an HSA. Lots of people I know work and can pay for: old beater car, gas, crappy apartment, utilities, food. and that’s IT. They are supposed to create a HSA out of what?


        • Cody
          January 11, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

          Why hard work, dedication and personally responsibility of course! With enough determination, upward mobility is limitless…blah blah blah.

          • Jo
            January 13, 2017 at 10:20 am #

            With their bootstraps, duh

      • Young CC Prof
        January 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

        The sane people are proposing HSA + high deductible plan, which works fine as long as you are basically financially stable. (The poor need some form of financial support.) There are a few crazy people proposing HSA as the end of the story, but most realize that’s unworkable.

  8. The Bofa on the Sofa
    January 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

    I saw a great (?) piece on pathos about a guy who was saying, “I don’t have to worry if they repeal Obamacare, i got my insurance through the ACA.”


    • Amazed
      January 10, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

      An American? That’s an important distinction. Sounds about as informed as my dad.

    • Chi
      January 11, 2017 at 12:49 am #

      Yep people are seriously that stupid that they have 100% bought into all the Republican propaganda to the point where they think Obamacare and the ACA are 2 separate entities.

      Trump winning is beginning to make a perverted kind of sense now.

  9. Marie Gregg
    January 10, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    I don’t call myself a theologian, but I do have a degree in theology, so I can say with a fair amount of confidence that opposition to the ACA on religious grounds makes little sense.

    I dislike the ACA because it’s not true reform; I am still denied medications and services. That’s still legal. We either need to go over to fully socialized medicine or remove state borders for the purposes of purchasing insurance (i.e., if I want to buy from a company in Mississippi, I should be able to do so). Either way costs would go down. There’s plenty of blame to pass around, on both sides of the political aisle, for that failure. (I will say that, because I lean libertarian, I don’t appreciate forcing someone who doesn’t want insurance [they do exist] to have it. But then the part of me that thinks science and medicine are good things balks. I wind up in conflict with myself, but don’t we all from time to time?)

    Birth control should not be an issue. People of faith need to understand that it’s not the same as abortion. When it comes to abortion, as a pacifist, I am grieved over the violent end of any life. That said, Christians in general have done a very poor job of building a network of support for women who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy. Having had that fear myself, I understand what drives a woman to such a choice. We would do far better to listen and empathize than to judge and condemn. We should also call loudly for family court reform, cry “foul” when “legitimate rape” is brought up, be in favor of comprehensive sex education (more than “here’s a condom” and more than “abstinence only”), etc.

    Edit to Add: Basically what I’m saying is that when it comes to abortion, Christians have lost the legal battle. I think that should be accepted. Instead of screaming outside a Planned Parenthood, we ought to put our arms around mothers, wed and unwed, and love them, whatever choice they make, whether we agree with it or not. In my experience, love and little understanding builds far more bridges than yelling does.

    Anyway…the situation concerns me greatly. Like I said, the ACA doesn’t go far enough, but I really don’t want to see friends of mine go without care. I’d also like to see my brother, who falls into a black hole thanks to both state and federal regulations, finally receive the care he needs. And I certainly don’t want to go back to the days of pre-existing conditions because then I’m screwed.

    • J.B.
      January 10, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

      Thank you for this perspective. I’ve borrowed WWJI and some Christian phrasing in letters to my senators, not that they will give a rat’s patootie but Christianity can be so much more than telling others how to live.

    • Gæst
      January 11, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      Pardon me, but as an “unwed mother” I do not want your arms around me, literally or metaphorically. I don’t need your paternalistic approval for my choices. What Christian groups should be doing is staying out of the business of women (and other people) who do come to them and ASK for their approval or support. Otherwise, it’s none of your business. I neither need nor want your support, and your approval or acceptance shouldn’t be required for me to have the right to control my own body.

      • Marie Gregg
        January 11, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

        Woah. I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I was talking about Chrsitians needing to get a whole lot better at respect and friendship. Did you not notice that in the “basically I’m saying” part?

  10. Liz Leyden
    January 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    The end of Obamacare means the return of lifetime coverage limits. My daughter has a congenital heart defect. She and my son are on Medicaid. Signing up was hell, but once they were covered it was awesome.

    If the kids lose Medicaid, we can put them on Hubby’s insurance. Unfortunately, he’s a state employee, and the new Republican governor is determined to “right-size” state government. If I don’t find a job that provides insurance, we all could lose our insurance. I hope my daughter doesn’t end up needing a heart transplant.

    • Marie Gregg
      January 10, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

      I hate that you’re in that situation. There are no words. I’m so sorry.

    • J.B.
      January 10, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      I’m sorry

    • momofone
      January 10, 2017 at 10:09 pm #

      I’m so sorry. I hope none of that happens.

  11. CanDoc
    January 10, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    YES! Exactly!

  12. moto_librarian
    January 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

    We could have single payer in this country. The majority of the population wants it. But the sticking points are predictable: birth control and abortion.

    • fiftyfifty1
      January 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

      I support single payer, but unfortunately there are way more sticking points than just birth control and abortion. Conservatives oppose single payer in general because they call it Big Government. Sadly, many doctors have also fought against it because they fear decreased revenue. It’s very upsetting.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        January 10, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

        The doctor opposition was probably the biggest reason it failed when Nixon tried to implement it

        • fiftyfifty1
          January 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

          It makes me sick to my stomach. It was (and is) so immoral.

        • Marie Gregg
          January 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm #

          That’s just gross. Since I deal with chronic illness, I appreciate doctors very much. They take care of me. But you bet that more often than not I find myself resenting the fact that I’m paying for their vacation homes and expensive cars. There needs to be some kind of balance, a genuinely fair payment for services rendered. Nobody should go broke just because she’s sick and nobody should profit off of illness that way.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 9:30 am #

            But you bet that more often than not I find myself resenting the fact that I’m paying for their vacation homes and expensive cars.

            I disagree. Doctors earn their salary.

            Think what it takes to be a doctor. GENERALLY, doctors are folks that were valedictorians at their high schools, and among the top students as undergrads. They are absolutely among the smartest (in general – don’t even bother with the “I know one who didn’t get good grades” crap).

            They provide, literally, a life-saving service. Why shouldn’t they be compensated extremely well? They are extremely valuable.

            I am all for socialized medicine, and for compensating them properly.

          • Heidi
            January 11, 2017 at 9:48 am #

            It seemed like at the not-for-profit hospital system I worked for, the ones who were getting way too much compensation where the CEOs and all the other C-O’s, who mostly had no medical background but a business background solely. What was infuriating is they thought they were making good financial decisions but they had no concept of anything medical and they were ultimately making very costly decisions.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 9:59 am #

            And that is a very different issue from what Marie brought up. CEOs are being paid using a different value system.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 10:20 am #

            Okay, but there are other professions that work arguably just as hard, if not harder, but don’t get paid as well. The only difference is that doctors’ work is seen as life saving. Very little work is paid based on how hard the work is, or even how smart the person has to be to do the job (many PhDs make very little money – some even make poverty wages these days).

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 10:32 am #

            Okay, but there are other professions that work arguably just as hard, if not harder, but don’t get paid as well.

            It’s not about how hard you work. Everyone works hard. But doctors do a job that 90% of people aren’t smart enough to do, and they provide a life-and-death service.

            Why shouldn’t they be compensated better for that?

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 10:51 am #

            I never said otherwise – but you included how intelligent they are and how hard they work as factors in how much they get paid. I don’t think those have anything to do with it. We don’t care how hard people work, and we don’t care how intelligent people are when it comes to setting values on their services. We care how valuable the service is, and how scare qualified people are to find, or how hard it is to retain them. Sometimes intelligence and difficulty of the job may play a role in the latter – but by no means always.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 10:56 am #

            you included how intelligent they are and how hard they work as factors

            I looked back at my original comment and don’t see anything about how hard they work.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

            I took it as given in “Think what it takes to be a doctor. GENERALLY, doctors are folks that were valedictorians at their high schools, and among the top students as undergrads.”

            Very few people achieve those things effortlessly. But if that’s not what you meant, fine. I still disagree that they are paid well because they are smart. They are paid well because they are doctors and provide a service that relieves pain, improves disability, and saves lives. Intelligence may be required to do the job well, but it’s not why they’re paid well.

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 10:38 am #

            It very complicated. As Bofa explained, to be a doctor needs people to be smart and work hard for many years, often up to a decade, before they can finally get to work.
            Then they have to keep learning all the time. it’s an extremely time consuming (often working evening, nights, weekend, being on call), extremely stressful job. They live with the burden of those they couldn’t save. And they do contribute a lot to society.

            As for PhDs not earning as much. Well, it really depends on what your PhD is in, how much you get paid will depend on how much job there is vs how many qualified people there are vs how helpful your job is.

            I’m pretty sure even the lowest employee in a McDonalds works very hard, probably harder than I do. But everyone can work at McDonalds. It’s not about how hard you work.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 10:49 am #

            Ditto for most PhDs. My point was that it’s the “saving lives” factor that makes them different. I actually think med school would have been easier than a PhD in the humanities, just as far as smartness and time spent on education goes.

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 11:20 am #

            Well, indeed they do save lives. Which does deserve proper remuneration.
            And no, I don’t think that most PhDs have working conditions and stress like many doctors do. Some probably do, But most don’t.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

            You don’t “think” so? On what evidence are you basing this?

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

            Maybe what you can do with a PhD is different from spot to spot. Where I’m from, PhDs are very academics stuff, people who get them are mostly people who wants to get into research fields, or some very advanced teaching position. Very few jobs actually require one here. I’m not saying that they are not hard working, or that they aren’t doing important stuff. But its extremely different than what doctors do, .

            Then there’s also the possibility of lowering your standards vs raising the pay. When you need a doctor, you need a doctor. You can’t downgrade to a nurse. If you need a cardiologist, you need a freaking cardiologist, you can’t even use any other kind of doctor. So if you want one, you are going to have to pay higher, otherwise they will probably go to another hospital with better working condition.
            In many other fields, if you can’t get a PhD, you can look for someone with a master’s degree, or someone with a lot of experience in the field.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

            And I never said that PhDs do the same thing that doctors do. I said that most PhDs don’t save lives, while doctors do (at least some of them) and that THAT is the reason for different pay, not intelligence, because both groups are, on average, equally intelligent although focused on different things.

            But you said you don’t think PhDs have difficult working conditions, and I wonder what evidence you’re basing that on.

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

            I didn’t say that I didn’t believe they had difficult working condition. I said they didn’t have the working condition and stress that Doctors have. Mainly: the stress of saving lives (and living with the memory of those you failed to save) and often having to sacrifice a lot of their personal time for their job because they are on call, working night shifts, working weekends etc.

          • Gæst
            January 11, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

            Oh, so we pay them because they have stress over saving lives? Why not pay EMTs, firefighters, search and rescue workers, etc. as highly? Why do we pay plastic surgeons more than ER docs? We really don’t pay people based on how hard or stressful their jobs are. We pay based on how much we want the job done, and how hard it is to find/keep enough people in that job – most of the time, that is. Because then sometimes the system breaks down, and job that was hard to fill becomes easier through outsourcing, etc. My insurance company is touting a new online chat service where I can supposedly consult a doctor anytime I want, right from my computer.

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

            No, they are paid highly for a variety of reason, ONE of which is that they save lives. I have pointed out many others.
            It’s really multi factorial, and the salary is never fixed by only one of those factors.

            The same thing goes for PhDs. PhDs actually contain a very huge variety of people, from very different background, in very different fields of work. So, because of a multitude of factors, even the pay between PhDs is going to vary. Some will be paid as much, even more than doctors (and some doctors are even ALSO PhDs.) But some will be paid less.

          • Marie Gregg
            January 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

            I’m for compensating them properly, too. I said that. At least I thought I did. I don’t expect every doctor to work for free.

            My perspective is probably somewhat different for 2 reasons: I see several doctors multiple times a year due to my illness so I’ve heard about their personal lives and because my husband works on the administrative side of healthcare. I’ve attended company parties so I’ve seen the lifestyle. I know all about surgeons who complain because quarterly bonus checks aren’t “enough.”

            Again, I really appreciate doctors and what they do. 100% honest in that. And not every doctor is a jerk to be sure. But it’s hard for me to have sympathy for some of the ones I know when they whine about not making enough money, especially when I know what I’m paying all of them.

            Side note: Trust me, I know some of that money goes to malpractice insurance. I get it. We need reform in that area.

          • Azuran
            January 11, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

            Well, you know what you are paying, but you don’t know how much of that money actually goes to the doctor himself. Basically the only thing a hospital sells is medical treatment given by doctors and nurses. And that money is used to pay for basically everything: The building, the electricity, all the support staff, all the medical material and a loads of other things.

            I don’t really know myself how much the doctor actually gets it’s probably highly variable depending on country, the type of healthcare etc, but to give you an idea, A veterinarian needs to bring in at least 4-5 times his own salary to be worth it to a clinic. very little of what I charge to my clients actually ends up in my pocket.

          • Marie
            January 12, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

            Again I think my view is different because of my husband’s work in healthcare. Also maybe I just interact with a lot of doctors and nurses who like to complain about money. I’m guessing most patients wouldn’t have too much sympathy for that.

          • Azuran
            January 12, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

            XD In a way, don’t we ALL complain about money (and taxes).

            Indeed, I don’t think many people take pity on doctors. I don’t really think they are overpaid in general (although there are some individual cases….), I think the kind of job they do deserves this kind of pay. But in general, they earn their lives well, so I don’t take pity on them either. (I’d support the nurses more though, they often have terrible starting salaries and work schedules)

          • Marie
            January 12, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

            BTW, very cool that you’re a veterinarian!

          • Gene
            January 11, 2017 at 11:26 am #

            I drive a base model Toyota with 120k miles. I have no vacation home, let alone multiple vacation homes. How many doctors do you actually know?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            January 11, 2017 at 11:28 am #

            My SIL bought an Audi. It was that or a convertable.

            Then again, her husband is an engineer, so she is not sole support. Oh, and she did that after working in private practice for 20 years.

          • Gene
            January 11, 2017 at 11:31 am #

            Lucky. I married a poor scientist. His salary pays for the kids daycare.

            Still, we love our jobs…

          • Marie Gregg
            January 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

            See my reply to Bofa.

          • fiftyfifty1
            January 11, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

            Yeah, base model Subaru here with 130k. We live in a 3 bedroom, 1 bath 1950’s rambler. But it is in a nice neighborhood with excellent schools, and my job is 100% recession proof. I’m not complaining. It was my own choice to go into primary care. And I would still take a pay cut if it meant everyone in this country could have single payer health care (although if they cut my pay they better damn well cut all my goddamn paperwork!)

          • Mom of 3
            January 16, 2017 at 9:25 am #

            FFS. Are we really doing a “rich doctors with their fancy cars and vacation homes” on this page. Come talk to me when you barely ever see your dr spouse, and you have no friends because you had to move for med school, then rotations, then residency. You gave up your own career because of said moves and because the Dr spouse can never call in sick, so it was all on you every time you had to miss work for the kids. Your spouse deals with the stress of having lives in their hands every day and one moment of weakness could lead to a loss of their livelihood. Oh and you have over $300k in high interest debt hanging over your head. Oh and all this is for primary care. Add years to training + more hours worked for specialists and surgeons, often during the most important years of parenting AND while the loan interest was piling on. And doctor salaries have gone down, not up, since the 80’s, while med school has gotten more and more expensive. And they do all that to save your damn life, so you can bitch about them being paid too much because a couple of them, after all that, finally saved enough to reward themselves with a vacation home or a nice car.

          • Mom of 3
            January 16, 2017 at 9:33 am #

            All that said, we would happily take a tax increase if it meant everyone got adequate health care. My husband laments every day how many of his patients would be better off with decent preventive care and how it breaks his heart to see people denied it because they can’t afford it (ACA has helped with this, but not enough).

      • moto_librarian
        January 11, 2017 at 10:42 am #

        But I do think that a lot of people who would benefit from it oppose it strictly because of birth control and abortion. The Republicans have been quite brilliant in focusing on those issues. Unified public pressure would go a long way towards forcing the government’s hand on this. As far as doctors are concerned, I’m not sure what the answer is.

  13. Adelaide GP
    January 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    Couldnt agree more ! Fundamentalists applying their radical interpretations selectively thereby creating a default hypocrisy for most other important areas is a common theme with other groups, the lactivists, antivaxxers, homebirths.

    Universal health insurance has other important flow on effects for not only medical care but also social benefits and general health of “society” . Its cheaper overall and more efficient too, eg health spending as percentage of GPD consistently lower in eg Australia than US. There is solid evidence around the world for universal health insurance and a strong publicly funded health system. I really hope Trump administration doesnt destroy the positive changes made in this direction 🙁

    • Roadstergal
      January 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

      Destroying the positive changes is, if not the #1 priority, in the top 5.

  14. Roadstergal
    January 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    Sort of OT – Trump met with RFKJr about The Ebul Vaccines today. Just about the only consistent position Trump has ever held is The Ebul Vaccines. So, hope you’ve been enjoying that brief respite from VPDs. The Federal government does a lot to enable access to vaccines, particularly the VFC program – at the moment.

    • Amazed
      January 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

      OMFG, you don;t mean RFKJr like Robert Kennedy Junior, right?

        • Amazed
          January 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

          OK. OK. I’ll try to forget that I asked.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        January 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

        Yes the antivax loon Kennedy: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/01/trump-taps-vaccine-skeptic-robert-f-kennedy-jr-to-launch-science-review/

        Quote from Kennedy after his Trump meeting: “He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.”

        Oh dear Flying Spaghetti Monster f’ing shoot me now….

        Gee you think Orac will have a column about this soon?

        • Roadstergal
          January 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

          It’s fully in keeping with the trend of Trump’s cabinet appointments. Climate-change deniers to head the EPA. A believer in doing away with public schooling to head Education. RFK Jr for vaccine safety.

          The SNL sketch on Walter White to head the DEA was spot-on.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          January 10, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

          We actually have a commission on vaccine safety. It’s filled by some of the top pediatric immunologists in the country, if not the world.

          But I’m sure RFKJr will have something to contribute, sure…

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          January 10, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

          In case you are not familiar will just how much of an antivaxxer RFKjr is. One of many RFKjr columns by Orac:


        • Amazed
          January 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

          I can’t think, I’m busy screaming. Bring on your ear plugs please.


          Has the orange one officially lost his fucking mind?

          • Chi
            January 10, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

            He would need a mind to lose in the first place >_>

            Jury is still debating whether it existed at all.

          • Amazed
            January 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

            OK, guilty as charged. I did write before thinking.

          • Roadstergal
            January 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm #


          • Roadstergal
            January 10, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

            Assuming facts not in evidence – that he ever had one to lose.

          • Amazed
            January 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

            Yes, I can just imagine their conversation.

            Meanwhile, Amazing Niece got a nice dialogue with that door that was closed. She chattered to it for a while, clearly convincing it to open. Then, she pushed it and voila, out in the hall she was.

            Now, THIS conversation seems the height of logic compared to the one POTUS had with Kennedy. Horrifying.

        • MaineJen
          January 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

          Head. Desk. Head. Desk. Head. Desk.

  15. Amazed
    January 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    OT, kind of: I wonder what Obamacare is presented like in countries other than USA. I had a general idea what it was like here, in my corner of Eastern Europe, but I had no idea just how bad it was until I heard my own dad bashing it. Taking his cues from the media here, of course. Usually, he’s too lazy to read in English and asks my mom to translate it for him and she’s been so busy lately that she barely waits to make it to bed. News in English aren’t first priority in their house so I had a good deal of explaining to do how it wasn’t meant to provide access to the greatest of top-notch care to lazy asses who never lifted a finger in their lives. He listened to me, asked questions, and finally joked, “What was I going to do without you? Are you trying to turn me into a Democrat?” I asked, “Why, am I succeeding?” “”Yes,” he said. “You are.”

    What is the Obamacare presented like in countries where English isn’t the first language?

    • Montserrat Blanco
      January 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm #

      In Spain it is presented as great by the media. It is difficult to find any criticism to it here.

      • Amazed
        January 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

        Thanks! I never paid much attention to the media here, so I was quite shocked to hear just how completely my dad was taken in. We do depend on our media so, do we not?

    • Azuran
      January 10, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

      Basically, the only criticism I’ve heard over here was bewilderment that people where actually fighting against this. And that Obamacare wasn’t enough.

      • Amazed
        January 10, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

        Dad literally had to pick up his jaw from the floor when I told him about the employer mandate. His reaction was, “They didn’t have this until now?” Good journalism my ass.

    • January 11, 2017 at 9:50 am #

      I’ve been trying to explain it to fellow Israelis ever since it was passed — and even before, when I would be asked why anyone would want private medicine? We DO have private medicine here, but the demand is very small. Our Health Fund HMOs suit pretty much everybody pretty well.

  16. Madtowngirl
    January 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    “I’m no theologian, but I feel confident that Jesus would not approve of taking affordable healthcare away from tens of millions and going back to the health insurance system prior to the ACA.”

    I guess I *sort of* am a theologian, given that my Bachelor’s is in Religious Studies, and I am with you 100% on this. Jesus would be appalled the attempts to repeal the ACA. In fact, he’d probably want socialized healthcare. He was quite the socialist, after all.

    Honestly, religious conservatives are one reason I moved away from Christianity. They sit in churches and claim to hear the words in the Bible, but they sure as shit aren’t listening.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      January 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

      Honestly, religious conservatives are one reason I moved away from Christianity. They sit in churches and claim to hear the words in the Bible, but they sure as shit aren’t listening.

      That is the main reason I quit the Catholic church, for sure.

      We used to sing the song, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me…” and run through the litany of the unfortunate we were to help, as in Matt 25.

      And no one did a lick of it. Care for those in prison? Those criminals deserve it. Homeless? Get a job, you bum. It was all such bullshit.

      The ELCA follows it much better. It is about, “Whatsoever you do” and “If not us, who will?”

      Not all Christian denominations suck as bad on this, although I completely hear what you are saying (like, why bother?)

      • Gæst
        January 11, 2017 at 10:26 am #

        In a way, I credit the Catholic church with teaching me the important values I have – but it only worked because I left the church as soon as I was out from under my parents’ thumb and could express my problems with the hypocrisies I also saw in it.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          January 11, 2017 at 10:33 am #

          Similarly, I can credit Catholic schools for teaching me that shame and humiliation is a bad way to teach things like penmanship.

      • StephanieA
        January 11, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

        My parents are great examples of this. They are very wealthy Catholics. They go to church every week, are very involved with the church and are constantly pressuring me to baptize my kids (I’m not giving in). But they are so far removed towards real world problems. They donate money to things like Right to Life and building new additions/schools to the church. We visited them this past weekend and went out in the city. My atheist husband and I were the only ones who gave money to the people asking on the freezing cold sidewalks. My parents and sister ignored them. I’m not saying we are the picture generosity, but helping the poor is a tenant of Christianity and my family doesn’t do it. They love professing their Catholicism, faith, etc but they don’t actually practice the teachings of Jesus.

        On the other hand, my husband’s late grandmother was a devout Catholic. She was constantly giving her money away to people in need, took on boarders who were in a tough spot, and was personally pro life but didn’t believe in enforcing her beliefs on other women. She was what I believe a Christian should be.

    • MaineJen
      January 10, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

      Me. Too.

      The “christians” of today bear no resemblance to what I learned in Sunday School, way back when. I don’t even recognize it any more.

      I tired of the hypocrisy and stopped practicing any religion years ago.

  17. attitude devant
    January 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm #

    Matthew 25:31-46 about says it all. “As you have done to the least of these, so you have done to me.”

    There is no excuse. None

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      January 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

      You would think. But you would never believe the knot-twisting that goes on to try to avoid these clear directions from Jesus. It’s amazing what you have to do to rise to the level of “the least of these.”

      I mean, despite the fact that Jesus explicitly includes those in prison (and not just those falsely accused) among them and says you don’t even have to know them (strangers), they still insist that it does not apply to sinner or to non-followers of Jesus.

      Matt 25 is very clear: when you deny insurance to poor people, you are denying it to Jesus.

      And when you don’t let gay people get married, you don’t let Jesus get married.

      • Roadstergal
        January 10, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

        They twist and turn and pick and choose lines here and there to say God Hates Fags and God Hates Abortions. But the very clear message of most of the New Testament – give up what you own to be good to the poor and underprivileged – nah, that’s not in their edition.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          January 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

          See: Prosperity gospel

          It’s mind-boggling how people can fall for that crap. What a bunch of charlatans

          • MaineJen
            January 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

            The prosperity gospel: telling rich people what they want to hear since the 80s.

        • Cody
          January 12, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

          But that’s socialism!!!!

    • fiftyfifty1
      January 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      And let’s not forget “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”.
      Apparently Jesus’ message that we must not try to evade taxes was important enough that it was repeated in 3 different gospels: Matthew 22, Mark 12 and Luke 20.

      • OttawaAlison
        January 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

        Someone on the Facebook page is praising the Free market saying it will make things cheaper…
        The Free Market doesn’t care if people live or die, it is amoral.
        Jesus believed in taxation.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          January 10, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

          I know when I am faced with a medical emergency, the first thing I do is call around to see who has the cheapest prices to treat me.

          It’s complete nonsense, of course.

          • Roadstergal
            January 11, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

            And it ignores the fact that many areas simply don’t have any choices when it comes to health care. As women in emergencies who were mis-treated at Catholic hospitals have learned.

      • J.B.
        January 10, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

        Although Reza Aslan had a different interpretation in Zealot based on Jewish history. His view is that it meant give the $ back to the Romans and the land back to God, or kick the Romans out.

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