Posted on



What did Joseph and Mary have for health coverage?

So what do you think Joseph and Mary's out-of-pocket costs were when Jesus was born? I mean, it was late in the year, their deductible was probably used up (they rode camels a lot, you know, there had to be some lower back issues), but since they couldn't find anyplace other than a manger for the blessed event, I'm guessing it wasn't an innetwork provider. And an immaculate conception? C'mon, the Republicans would have never allowed that to be covered under any government-subsidized policy.

Sorry, but I've been crossing up my Christmas thoughts with health insurance coverage this week. I'm not sure who planned it this way, but when the Obamacare sign-up deadline for the coming year is Dec. 15, and one of the most holiest days on the Christian calendar is just 10 days later, well, how's a guy supposed to keep 'em straight? Heck, yesterday I called up the government health care exchange hotline and asked if I could pay my monthly premium in frankincense or myrrh. 'Yeah, right,' the lady said, 'you're gonna want to make sure you get a plan with strong mental health benefits.'

Yuck, yuck. Everybody's a wise man this time of the year. I mean wise guy.

What if, a guy's gotta wonder, the Christ child had been born in the U.S. in 2019, a time when a monthly health care premium with a ridiculously-high deductible costs more than a modest mortgage payment and the insurance companies try to deny paying for anything from a broken leg to a brain transplant (yeah, I asked). Think about it, Joseph was just a lowly carpenter, probably a self-contractor with no employer benefits other than one annual screening for leprosy, there's no way he would have had coverage. Had he and Mary checked into most any hospital, they'd have been filling out paperwork for so long the Three Wise Men would have given up on seeing the Messiah and gone to the casino instead. I hear Balthasar loved the craps table.

You have to figure that Mary's stay in the manger would have been limited to 24 hours, tops, unless there were extraneous medical circumstances, such as a kid banging on his drum and keeping the infant awake. Chances are Mary would have had to stay in a semi-private room, which would cut down on the number of angels hovering nearby, and any extra amenities would have been forbidden, no matter that this kid was gonna one day save humanity from sin. As for halo care, forget about it, no policy I've ever seen offers it, not that I've checked that closely. Heck, all I want is for an insurance company to pay its fair share if I get smushed by a truck or contract some rare disease that turns my bone marrow into sawdust, without having to pay a million-dollar deductible and surrender the soul of my first-born child.

And what about prescription coverage? As an average dude, by all accounts, living in 0 B.C., Joseph would have had an expected life span of like 41, so, to be able to live long enough to raise Jesus to where he was old enough to turn loaves into fishes and recruit some apostles to help him start a new religion, he was gonna have to be on a beta-blocker for his blood pressure, an antistatin drug for his bad cholesterol levels (they ate a lot of high-fat mutton back then), and likely even an anti-depressant (I mean, that immaculate conception thing had to be on his mind). And Jesus himself, you know, after hearing that tale about how he got angry at the merchants and messed up their tables in the square, well, maybe there was a little ADHD goin' on and 10 milligrams of Ritalin would have been in order. That ain't cheap. That's a Tier 1 drug, man.

I suppose it's possible Joseph and his family would have qualified for some low-cost state funded health plan (I think they called it BethleCare), but I'm thinking simple pride would have kept him from applying. That was common then, only the beggars and the widows of prisoners who were fed to the lions tended to apply for public assistance, and Joseph and Mary would have rather fended for themselves. I mean, think about it, you bring the boy to a pediatrician for a simple ear infection, and he's in there healing other children just by touching them, and you have to say, 'Yeah, um, we're on BethleCare.' No way. I'm just not seein' it.

Perhaps the family got by on the old bartering system. If the child, say, came down with a little rash from laying hands on too many lepers, maybe Joseph just built the doctor some new kitchen cabinets, or reshingled his roof. I'm not sure what Mary's skills were other than posing for sculptors to make statues of her that would one day be placed in half-buried bathtubs, but, you know, maybe she did housecleaning or day care. I could see that, Mary being a nanny for some rich physician's brats, and young Jesus schooling them in the backyard treehouse about the promise of everlasting salvation. Can't you just hear it, Jesus calling to Mary, 'Hey Mom, is it OK if Matthew, Mark, Peter, Paul and Luke and me go down to the river after lunch to practice baptisms?'

'Sure thing, sweetie,' she'd say. 'Just make sure to invite Judas. You don't want him to feel left out.'

I'm thinking Joseph and Mary would be big Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders backers if they were alive today, what with their 'Medicare for All' notions. That promise of affordable heath care would have been attractive to them, although it probably would have greatly conflicted with their beliefs in generally-held conservative viewpoints on abortion, fetal tissue research, homosexuality and gun control (True fact: Joseph never owned an AR-15 assault rifle). But that's just the thing with health care, it shouldn't be a liberal-conservative clash, but just an issue of compromise for the general well-being of the entire population. Heck, I'm thinking even the Little Drummer Boy could have understood that.

Well, just in case any new saviors are born this Christmas season, his (or her, I mean, c'mon, it's almost 2020) parents had better hope they have Gold Level coverage, or else they'll be in debt for the birth until their blessed offspring is ready for high school. And, what then, if the child needs braces? Forget about it. Looks like we may just have a Messiah with an overbite.