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 Post subject: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its needy?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:51 pm 
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The LDS church is full of members who are as devoted to the republican party or the tea party wing as fiercely as they are devoted to the LDS church. One of the conservative responses to the issue of health care for needy or indigent citizens is that it should be taken care of privately, through family, friends, and churches.

So I was wondering if the LDS church is a leader in this issue. Does anyone know if the LDS church helps any of its members cover medical cost when they are uninsured or underinsured, or simply just overwhelmed with the cost of a catastrophic illness?

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:07 pm 
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When I was financial clerk, I rarely paid for medical expenses. However, that doesn't mean that the church wasn't indirectly paying for medical expenses. Fast offering disbursements tend to be made for food and housing, but there is never an analysis as to why people are short in those areas, in many cases it could be because of medical expenses. I think what has happened is that there is an understanding of sorts that the LDS church is willing to pay for food and housing, so that's what people ask for when they go in for aid from the Bishop.


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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:25 pm 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
When I was financial clerk, I rarely paid for medical expenses. However, that doesn't mean that the church wasn't indirectly paying for medical expenses. Fast offering disbursements tend to be made for food and housing, but there is never an analysis as to why people are short in those areas, in many cases it could be because of medical expenses. I think what has happened is that there is an understanding of sorts that the LDS church is willing to pay for food and housing, so that's what people ask for when they go in for aid from the Bishop.


That's what I thought. It's not always clear-cut who gets aid and who doesn't in these circumstances, either.

Short-term assistance in food and housing certainly would be helpful in some circumstances, but I'm thinking more along the lines of people who face catastrophic healthcare situations. I often see jars that people in the community place in stores to ask for help covering these sort of medical costs, but I haven't heard of churches helping out. I doubt most churches are in a position to be able to do so, but the LDS church has far more financial capacity than most religious organizations. It does seem that the church really could help its members facing catastrophic healthcare costs. And I would think such a republican-leaning organization would be willing to set the example for other religious organizations.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:43 pm 
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I just typed out a long response on my phone and lost it. I will re-post later when on my computer. Suffice it to say for now that yes medical expenses are paid by the church. My experience is very different from Aristotle's.


Later:

Ok it is later. :smile:

When I was an almost 6 year bishop I paid medical expenses routinely. Many times the person was uninsured. As a member of the stake HC I do audits of the ward finances. I see medical expenses paid in the wards I audit.

When I was bishop the handbook addressed medical expenses and then allowed in my early years (best as I can recall) $2500 of expenses for any one medical bill before the bishop needed SP approval. The SP could go up to $5000 before he needed I believe his area authority to approve it. I believe near the end of my time each of those amounts were doubled.

I am not sure why it was implied by Aristotle that members are under the impression that they should just seek food and housing. I just assume that was his experience. Of course those were the first things I would assist with. And I never wanted someone to go without food or shelter. But there were other things I paid from utilities to car payments that were not excessive and phone bills. I did not pay luxury items and I always wanted to assess what resources the person had to meet their needs both from liquidating non essentials to family. But honestly most the people I helped were not well off and had little means. Usually I focused on helping them get work as well as finding other community resources to assist because often they had long term problems which were beyond the ability of the ward to help with.


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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:24 pm 
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I assisted a lot of Cambodians during my mission in regards to healthcare. We translated at the hospital and helped them get medications and even watched children while a single parent went to the doctor.

We were often asked by the members if the church could help them out. Many of these people were in dire straights, not knowing English, living in bad conditions, suffering from the horror they left behind years ago. We were specifically told to only get help from Social Security and Welfare and we did spend many hours in the welfare offices. I'm sure the branch president was administering funds to the members from time to time but we were not made aware of this. I do remember one time when the branch pres and RS pres did come to assist one of our investigators. She was one of two of my baptisms during those two years.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:06 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:36 am 
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Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:15 am 
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bcspace wrote:
Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.


Correct. Medical care should only be available to those who have enough wealth to afford it.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:57 am 
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cwald wrote:
bcspace wrote:
Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.


Correct. Medical care should only be available to those who have enough wealth to afford it.


Like everything should only be available to those who have enough wealth to afford it. Unfortunately some things are still free at the point of use, which is against God's plan.

I am happy to say, however, that as the economy advances we shall eventually reach the point where the so-called "free" air around us is so polluted that only those with the money to pay for breathable air will be able to afford to respire. As a result, the poor will no longer be a problem, and all this discussion about health care, food stamps and other hand-outs for such people need no longer take up our time, and we shall be able to get on with living the Gospel, just like Jesus wants us to.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:20 am 
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bcspace wrote:
Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.

I don't think Beastie was arguing for free medical care, but thanks for trying to push your political agenda (again).

Notice the title of the thread has the word "pay" in it. Is the church willing to help pay the price to help people with basic needs or not? That seems to be the question.

My personal opinion is that a church with an aim for Zion really is not geared well to assist with basic needs like a government is.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:47 pm 
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bcspace wrote:
Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.


So you're even opposed to the LDS church and other religious organizations helping its member pay medical bills in times of intense need?

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:48 pm 
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Thanks to those who answered my question.

Next question: is this completely taken care of on a local basis, or does Salt Lake City ever help with these costs?

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:22 pm 
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beastie wrote:
Thanks to those who answered my question.

Next question: is this completely taken care of on a local basis, or does Salt Lake City ever help with these costs?



Beastie,

It is my understanding that all of these decisions are made locally but that funding is ultimately funneled through Salt Lake City.

Tithing ==> Bishop ==> Salt Lake City ==> Stakes & Wards

But wait ..... fast offerings (where I assume the funding would come from) may stay local and never be sent to Salt Lake City. I don't know.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:27 pm 
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I'll tell you the general rule and give exceptions.

The general rule: All decisions about medical care and bills are made locally, by the bishop. He uses a church bank account, based in Salt Lake City, to dispense the funds. Depending on the amount, he may need approval from his stake president or, as I have seen done, from an Area Authority who supervises the stake president (in California, that would be a President of the Seventy). Under no usual circumstances is money held "locally" before transmittal to Salt Lake. The Church uses a central cash management system, which requires a central bank account as the only source of funds.

I've never seen an individual decision questioned; I've seen a bishop who routinely dispenses medical assistance questioned. In training I went through, we were encouraged to seek out the poor to assist, but in California there is a government and private net able to provide for a lot of this stuff without the Church, and our poor members go there -- to a County hospital. There they can receive regular advice and medications; the problem usually is that it could involve a several-hour wait for a routine visit.

When I was a bishop, I took a pretty soft position on medical expenses; never withholding a request. I took a harder line on mortgage payments, where the mortgage was upside down. No sense spending $4500 to help somebody with their mortgage when $1500 would pay for a month's rent for a family of six.

Exceptions -- now the exceptions. In every set of rules there are exceptions.

There were direct relations between the ward and medical providers -- usually therapists, some times M.Ds. and pharamacists. The ward would be billed directly. Salt Lake money would pay for these.

Bishops (and home teachers) routinely reach into their own pockets or credit cards to pay the medical expenses of the indigent, and may or may not seek reimbursement from the Church. In my ward, I saw that all that time for one sister and one brother. The sister and the brother did not want to spend hours in the county hospital.

Other persons, like counselors or home teachers, may make the decision about health care expenses without consulting the bishop. Only when church funds come into play are bishops required to be involved. But in my ward there is a large net, funded by a a few wealthy folks, to handle the local needs of some without seeing the bishop. And, no, I am not one of those folks.

Although the handbook limits payment of medical expenses to members, I would routinely be asked to pay for expenses of non-members. On one occasion, the request came directly from Salt Lake for an indigent teenager.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:34 pm 
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I really wish these bishops would seek God first and use his priesthood to heal people instead of reaching for their credit card or the church bank account instead.


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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:35 pm 
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Tobin wrote:
I really wish these bishops would seek God first and use his priesthood to heal people instead of reaching for their credit card or the church bank account instead.


People in desperate need for their heart medication aren't looking for me to give them a blessing. Paul himself is critical of brothers in the church who don't extend welfare support to the widows. Perhaps they could have made it on a blessing instead.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Yahoo Bot wrote:
Tobin wrote:
I really wish these bishops would seek God first and use his priesthood to heal people instead of reaching for their credit card or the church bank account instead.


People in desperate need for their heart medication aren't looking for me to give them a blessing. Paul himself is critical of brothers in the church who don't extend welfare support to the widows. Perhaps they could have made it on a blessing instead.


Yes, I understand that, but it is a sad commentary all the same. I would prefer that they seek the Lord's blessing and counsel first and if the Lord said get the medicine - then do so. I believe the best welfare you can give is after you seek the Lord's will when considering a circumstance.


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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:51 pm 
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Tobin wrote:

Yes, I understand that, but it is a sad commentary all the same. I would prefer that they seek the Lord's blessing and counsel first and if the Lord said get the medicine - then do so. I believe the best welfare you can give is after you seek the Lord's will when considering a circumstance.


My guess is that you have never worked with the desperate. Typically, the wealthy think that the poor can sort out their own problems if they would simply buckle up. They don't really contemplate their options or the reason for the church's existence before coming to a bishop for help. Usually, they've been in weeks or months of denial and hiding, to the point that there are no other options.

Given enough advance warning, a bishop can (1) get family members involved, (2) enroll a member in a government assistance program, (3) suggest a spiritual solution, (4) help perform an audit of one's own resources and reserves. But, I really never saw that happen. If they refused to let you get their parents involved, it wasn't like you could say -- hey, then no money from me.

Hey, if it were my church, I'd say -- no money from me until you get your parents and children on the line and have them tell me they aren't going to help. But it isn't my church.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:56 pm 
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Yahoo Bot wrote:
Tobin wrote:

Yes, I understand that, but it is a sad commentary all the same. I would prefer that they seek the Lord's blessing and counsel first and if the Lord said get the medicine - then do so. I believe the best welfare you can give is after you seek the Lord's will when considering a circumstance.


My guess is that you have never worked with the desperate. They don't really contemplate their options or the reason for the church's existence before coming to a bishop for help. Usually, they've been in weeks or months of denial and hiding, to the point that there are no other options.

Given enough advance warning, a bishop can (1) get family members involved, (2) enroll a member in a government assistance program, (3) suggest a spiritual solution, (4) help perform an audit of one's own resources and reserves. But, I really never saw that happen. If they refused to let you get their parents involved, it wasn't like you could say -- hey, then no money from me.


Well, they aren't really living the Gospel in that case. I can understand that temporal needs must be addressed on the spot, but such individuals need much more than that if they are in "denial and hiding". I believe the ideals of the Gospel is to be open and honest with yourself and others, in seeking the best advice, knowledge, and counsel, and we should seek to engender these traits and attitudes in others as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:56 pm 
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Yahoo Bot wrote:
I'll tell you the general rule and give exceptions.

The general rule: All decisions about medical care and bills are made locally, by the bishop. He uses a church bank account, based in Salt Lake City, to dispense the funds. Depending on the amount, he may need approval from his stake president or, as I have seen done, from an Area Authority who supervises the stake president (in California, that would be a President of the Seventy). Under no usual circumstances is money held "locally" before transmittal to Salt Lake. The Church uses a central cash management system, which requires a central bank account as the only source of funds.

I've never seen an individual decision questioned; I've seen a bishop who routinely dispenses medical assistance questioned. In training I went through, we were encouraged to seek out the poor to assist, but in California there is a government and private net able to provide for a lot of this stuff without the Church, and our poor members go there -- to a County hospital. There they can receive regular advice and medications; the problem usually is that it could involve a several-hour wait for a routine visit.

When I was a bishop, I took a pretty soft position on medical expenses; never withholding a request. I took a harder line on mortgage payments, where the mortgage was upside down. No sense spending $4500 to help somebody with their mortgage when $1500 would pay for a month's rent for a family of six.

Exceptions -- now the exceptions. In every set of rules there are exceptions.

There were direct relations between the ward and medical providers -- usually therapists, some times M.Ds. and pharamacists. The ward would be billed directly. Salt Lake money would pay for these.

Bishops (and home teachers) routinely reach into their own pockets or credit cards to pay the medical expenses of the indigent, and may or may not seek reimbursement from the Church. In my ward, I saw that all that time for one sister and one brother. The sister and the brother did not want to spend hours in the county hospital.

Other persons, like counselors or home teachers, may make the decision about health care expenses without consulting the bishop. Only when church funds come into play are bishops required to be involved. But in my ward there is a large net, funded by a a few wealthy folks, to handle the local needs of some without seeing the bishop. And, no, I am not one of those folks.

Although the handbook limits payment of medical expenses to members, I would routinely be asked to pay for expenses of non-members. On one occasion, the request came directly from Salt Lake for an indigent teenager.


Thank you for this detailed response.

I did wonder if the church encourages its members to take advantage of governmental assistance first. That does seem to indicate that church leaders realize that government assistance does have its place. As helpful as religious and charitable intervention may be, it seems to me that to expect people to rely on that altogether would overwhelm churches and charitable organizations.

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 Post subject: Re: Does the LDS church help pay for medical care for its ne
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:49 pm 
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cwald wrote:
bcspace wrote:
Another false premise; that medical care should be free for anyone or that it is a right.


Correct. Medical care should only be available to those who have enough wealth to afford it.


Of course I was being cynical. It bothers me that who are less fortunate get second class health care. Why?

Perhaps we as a civilization might consider health care as a "right" for all mankind...kind of how we have developed our attitude towards education?

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