Forced Coverage Challenges Some Spiritual And Religious Beliefs

Provision Would Only Apply To Those 'Self-Insured'

There are still serious questions about requiring people to buy health insurance even when mainstream medicine is against their religious or spiritual beliefs.

There is a clause created for the Amish and others, but it doesn't apply to all groups. It only applies to groups that are 'self-insured' like the Amish who pay for each other when a member gets sick.

That provision would not include people like Edd Perkins, a Christian Scientist who has never taken a drug in his life, not even aspirin.

“No medicine,” said Perkins. “I think probably the thing Christian Scientists are most known for is their desire to take care of body problems and experience through spiritual healing rather than relying on medicine.”

Perkins was raised a Christian Scientist. He has always opted for spiritual healing over medical treatment, even when his son fell very ill.

“I spent the night in his room on the floor. Sleeping part of the time and praying part of the time," said Perkins. “The next morning he was up and bouncing around.”

The reform bill will require those who can afford health insurance, like Perkins, to purchase it – or risk a fine. Fines are currently estimated to be $700 to $800 annually or two percent of a person's annual income.

Timothy McNamara practices Reiki, also known as Japanese palm healing. Reiki is a holistic health practice currently not covered by health insurance providers.

"Reiki is an excellent preventative health care practice," said McNamara. “It’s based on the concept we use our hands to heal and balance our body.”

McNamara says he has clients who don’t believe they should be punished for not purchasing health insurance. His philosophy is that Reiki compliments medicine.

“I think medicine is good. I think doctors are good. I think we have to use the best of both to care for people, especially those with critical conditions like those diagnosed with cancer or something like that,” said McNamara. “I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. And I hope that as this debate goes forward they don’t try to exclude one or the other.”

7NEWS asked Perkins if he thinks the bill is fair to those who don't want insurance.

"Fair is one of those things that you can't always apply to legislative activity,” said Perkins. “In my position, not political, as an individual, I would like to have a choice.”

As for the Japanese practice of Reiki, McNamara said many medical professionals now respect it and even promote it along with medicine.

Perkins said if it boils down to buying insurance or breaking the law, he will purchase health insurance that he says he will never use.

“If it comes to paying a penalty – I suppose I would purchase insurance. Nobody chooses to pay a penalty or another tax,” said Perkins.