Faith healing on the US taxpayer
Should US health insurers fund spiritual healing? As members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives slug it out over issues like government-funded health insurance, clauses that could force health insurers to pay for religious and spiritual healing have slipped into at least two of the healthcare reform bills currently making their way through Congress.
One of the House bills, for example, states that insurers shall not “discriminate in approving or covering a healthcare service on the basis of its religious or spiritual content”, as long as that service is tax-deductible. There is similar language in one of the Senate healthcare bills.
Christian Scientists are the only religious group whose practitioner services are currently tax-deductible and they believe strongly in the healing power of prayer. These bills will have to be combined over the next few weeks before being signed into law, and it’s unclear whether the “religious or spiritual content” provisions will survive. But if they do, they could force health insurers to pay for prayers from Christian Science practitioners.
“It’s so important that anyone in this country, not just Christian Scientists, not be discriminated against because they use spiritual care or rely on it instead of conventional medical treatment,” said Phil Davis, who manages media and legislative affairs for Christian Scientists globally, speaking to the St Petersburg Times, a Florida newspaper.