THE BLOG
12/07/2009 03:16 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

What's Next: Insurance Coverage of Prayers Not to Get Pregnant?

Let me begin by saying that I have no intention to ridicule the Christian Science religion to the extent it relies upon prayer in the face of illness. It is a religious belief and practice to be respected. On the other hand, the thought of insurance coverage for such prayer sessions is ludicrous. Will we next be covering the cost of chickens killed in animal sacrifice!

The possible inclusion of such coverage is wrong for a number of reasons. First, there is no proven medical benefit to such prayer. It may work and it may not. However, there are a number of reported cases in which the reliance upon prayer in the stead of recognized medical treatment has resulted in disastrous consequences. Second, among the goals of health care reform is the reduction of costs. To add unproven spiritual remedies to the ever increasing expenses, runs contrary to that goal. and it may open the door to many other unproven remedies.

Finally, there is the question of the separation of church and state. Although it is not absolutely clear, but the insuring of a religious practice might very well constitute a violation of that principle. Furthermore, it is so ripe for fraud and abuse. If it survives scrutiny on the basis that it can be practiced by all religious groups, then I envision a cottage industry of professional prayers swamping the system with claims for reimbursement.

Nothing is more inimical to the separation of church and state than the idea that we would provide insurance coverage for prayer and bar it for abortions. It is so apparent that both those proposals are driven by religion and religion alone.