Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Christian Scientists and Health Insurance

The Ft. Worth Star Telegram has a story about the Christian Science church and health insurance. The Christian Science church rejects the germ theory of disease and believes that all illness is spiritual in nature rather than physical and thus should be treated with prayer and counseling rather than medical intervention. It seems the church is concerned that changes in our healthcare system will undermine the use of insurance to pay for people to pray for them.

Christian Scientists, like most people, are keeping a close eye on what might happen with national healthcare reform in the wake of the economic crisis.

But their viewpoint is different from most.

A misconception many people have is, “Why would Christian Scientists worry about health insurance anyway? Don’t they just rely on faith and prayer for healing?”

Many of them do, said Phil Davis, global spokesman for the Boston-based religion. But because some employers and insurance companies reimburse Christian Scientists and others who use prayer-based healthcare, changes that might threaten that would be alarming.

Yes, they actually think people should be reimbursed for praying for people by insurance companies.

Christian Science is a religion of equals, not a priesthood or hierarchy. The branch churches are democratic and run from the laity. But there are those whose career is to pray with others. They do charge, because that is their only source of income, doing this full time.

There’s also Christian Science nursing, which provides individual physical care. There are more than 20 Christian Science nursing facilities in the U.S., as well as private duty nurses. They work without medical procedures or drugs. They do bandages, assist with mobility, cleanliness.  . . . In a large sense, everyone is a practitioner, but there’s the element of track records. [Practitioners] are also available to the general public…

In the 1980s, we had more than 300 insurance companies in the United States that had riders or provisions for prayer-based healthcare. But in the mid-1990s, we went through a huge shift from a fee-for-service into what we call managed-care system. We’re working to be included in that. But HMOs and PPOs are so medically oriented that Christian Science doesn’t fit as neatly — although Medicare, Medicaid, military insurance and federal employees’ insurance now make allowances.

Imagine that – medical insurance that is “medically oriented,” As opposed to fantasy oriented.


  1. #1 Tulse
    February 27, 2009

    Look at Canada. They have government healthcare and it is expensive and substandard.

    In a word, bullshit. Canada spends less on health care than the US, both as measured by percent of GDP (10% vs. 15.3%) and per capita (US$3678 vs. US$6714), but its health care outcomes are as good or better than the US. (And, of course, Canada’s population generally reports better health overall, such as lower infant mortality and longer lifespan than the US.)

    And, of course, Canadians don’t have to worry about losing their health care when they lose their job.

    Only someone profoundly ignorant or intentionally mendacious could say that Canada’s system is more costly and less effective than the US.

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