Friday, May 22, 2009

An example of why American healthcare is Teh Fail

Young man condemned to death because of pre-existing condition that disqualifies him from health insurance. And also, apparently, because the people of Nevada are skinflints who won't fund their Medicaid program enough to cover serious illnesses, instead throwing those people out on the streets to die.

That's not the kind of story you hear about in France, because it wouldn't happen in France. That's not the sort of story you hear about in Netherlands, because it wouldn't happen in the Netherlands. Or in Germany. Or Austria. Or Canada. Or even in the sorry British Public Health Service, which is always woefully underfunded. People don't get denied health care there just because they're poor or have the bad luck to live in a state populated by retired vicious elderly skinflints who hate everybody and everything and they have their Medicare so why should they care about the healthcare of youngsters? It's only in this sick, sad society where we condemn people to die because we're a nation of vicious hateful bastards.

-- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin


  1. He wasn't condemned to death. Hearts don't grow on trees. Who deserves the limited number of hearts? In socialized medicine the government decides. In a free society, people allocate resources how they personally want, buying insurance against catastrophes they want to prevent.

    My aunt died at an even younger age of a similar condition, and not once did her family go around blaming everyone for it. It happens. It's called adversity and it's what we were born to experience.

    So your remedy is that this guy should have automatically got on the heart wait-list along with all of the other people who *planned ahead* Oh, so maybe he had a preexisting condition. Society should cover the innocent, say up to age 21, but after that, if you have a preexisting condition, it is the same is waiting until after your car is wrecked to buy car insurance.

    Given that hearts are a limited resources who would *you* condemn to die in this guy's place?

    Is everyone just that evil that they must automatically be labeled as vicious and hateful?

  2. Did you see this?
    Bill Moyers covered the single payer options that are not getting heard in this "debate" on the hill.

    The Donna Smith and Drs Himmelstein and Wolfe segments can be watched online.

  3. But ...
    If we had universal coverage, like all them furin" places, ... The bosses would have less control over our lives.
    As Biff said: "You wouldn't want that to happen. Would you?

  4. Sooooo....two government run health care entities, one state and one fed, have refused to help him with a new heart due to cost. And some think it a good idea to let government make the decision for all the rest of us.

    Great logic.

  5. manapp99 said: Sooooo....two government run health care entities, one state and one fed, have refused to help him with a new heart due to cost.

    Well he might pull himself up by his boot straps and pay for it himself.
    Else: we might tax the Pirates enough for the means to pay the charges and get Aunt Sal ambulatory again to boot.

  6. Welcome to North Mexico, again. In America, your life has no value unless you are rich. Like Somalia, or Zimbabwe. I can't even say it would be like that in impoverished countries such as Indonesia or Papua New Guinea. The people I've met from there have enough human feelings that if they hear of someone dying from an illness, they feel sad about it, instead of saying like nathan2209 "Tough luck, loser. You shoulda bought some insurance."

    New national motto of North Mexico: "If you're poor, if you can't work, if you're sick, go die."

    I WILL say that I've seen some reich-wing commenters on econoblogs saying "If I get cancer, it's OK if I just get sick and croak. Better than paying high taxes for government medicine." That's standing up for your principles, dumbshits. More important to resist "socialism" than it is to live. That is, if you place no value on your own life.

    I like my life. I want to live for as long as I'm not in severe pain. That's part of why I chose to live in a land with high taxes and socialised medicine.

    Nathan, I hope you get to live in a land which follows your values. The U.S. seems to be going that way. You just won't be living long. For you, my favourite double-edged saying: "May you get what you truly deserve."

  7. Bukko, You're ascribing thoughts and feelings to me that you know nothing of and then you say "may you get what you deserve". Civil discourse requires that you assume that people have good intentions until proven otherwise. I'm sure if you really knew me, you'd be surprised how much I don't fit your stereotype.

    You didn't say who you would "condemn to death" in place of this young man. Tough choices right? Is age the primary criteria? Why not select based on the value to society? What if one guy is 40 and has four dependent children? Does this 27 year old trump him? If he votes Republican does he get lower priority (it is documented that vocal Republicans received much less aid during Roosevelt's New Deal)

    I think it is better to minimize the role of government in picking winners and losers. Yes, that means rich people will have a leg up. But *anyone* can afford catastrophic insurance, especially if you reform the system as I recommend. We're talking about the same ends, just different means.

    BTW, we have laws against becoming rich by taking advantage of others. So in a meritocracy, wealth is the result of doing something very valuable for society. We can debate about inherited wealth. (We can also debate how much of a meritocracy we are ) But for the most part first generation wealth means that society values the person with it. Doesn't society have stake in letting it's most valuable citizens stay healthy even more so than the rest of it? As long as we live in a meritocracy, better healthcare going to the wealthy is very *democratic*! (their wealth was giving to them by "we the people".) Hey, don't knock it, I'm just telling it like it is.

    BTW, I believe in doing Christian service for the poor and I personally take very seriously the commandment to love my fellow men as much as myself. If we were friends, I could elaborate, but as it is, I just remind you to not make assumptions about people.

  8. BTW, we have laws against becoming rich by taking advantage of others.

    must... stop... laughing...

    But *anyone* can afford catastrophic insurance,


  9. First off, what hipparchia said!

    Nathan, I've worked in plenty of hospitals taking care of people with illnesses relating to medical conditions that have landed them on transplant lists. That means hospitals here and in America. I know some of what gets people preferences for organs. It depends on their underlying health, how likely it is they'll be able to take care of their new organ -- it's not easy with the anti-rejection meds, careful eating/fluid intake, exercise, etc. -- age, family support, job... There's also an element of random chance -- who has what tissue type and is in the right place at the time when the right organ is available.

    In my system of values, money should have NO bearing. I believe in egalitarianism. From everything I've heard from patients waiting for lungs and kidneys here, and a guy who had a new heart, money is not a factor in Australia. That's because it's all organised by the government here. Private insurance doesn't touch transplants, because it's too expensive. Even when transplants are done at private hospitals here, it's the government which pays. And the government cannot be bribed by rich people.

    But the medical system can be bribed in America. So a rich person's life is worth more than a poor person's life. That's wrong. Sure, some people are going to die waiting for organs. But I'd rather see it be decided by random chance than bank accounts. However, that's not the case in Mexico Norte. So you should be glad, Nathan -- you live in a nation that follows your principles that says rich people can live and poor people can die.

    Got riches? Got health? Sure you got 'em for the next 50 years? If not, got a funeral paid for in advance?

  10. Thanks, Bukko. You summed up my response exactly -- people who measure the value of a human life by how many digits are in that person's bank account are sad and pathetic people. Transplantation, or any medical treatment in general, should be a question of who will benefit most medically from the treatment, not how many dollars each person on the list has. It is morally abhorrent to measure the value of a human life in dollars, and so-called "Christians" who do so should go back and re-read the Sermon on the Mount.

    - Badtux the Healthcare Penguin

  11. Bukko, I appreciated your more recent response. You did answer my question. I respect your experience in hospitals. So what you're saying is that money should have no bearing. I remind you that money is just a proxy for value. So you're just saying that we cannot take into account how much people value health care when deciding who gets it. I respect that. I disagree, but I respect it. I do agree that being rich does not make you anymore more valuable in the sight of God and it doesn't even necessarily mean that you're more valuable to society. I was only arguing that income is about the best way that we've ever thought of to-date for communicating how much society values what somebody does. I wasn't making a moral judgment.

    I've never said money is good, that free markets are always perfect or even fair. I've never said that the poor deserve less health care. I'm just describing reality as it is and always will be: imperfect. I am trying to get people to admit that there are imperfections in all health care systems. There will always be something wrong with them. So I want us in the U.S. to pick the lesser of evils. My ideal healthcare system would have fewer dead bodies in the street, as Badtux likes to describe it. In fact, in the U.S. we kill about 1 million people each year who are not yet born. Look at the low hanging fruit here. Instead of worrying about health care for uninsured, we could be changing abortion law, encouraging stronger marriages, etc. So I'd argue that by being silent on the issue of abortion, you have all tacitly made a value judgment that discrimination based on age is OK but discrimination based on how much you value health care is not OK. I can understand that. It make sense from a certain point of view. All remedies discriminate somewhere somehow.

    As to the Sermon on the Mount. I read it at least once a year. *I* don't value somebody by their pocketbook. There is a big difference individual morality and collectivist morality. In my private life, I take serving the poor as a serious charge. Helping the poor includes more dimensions than physical needs. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in spirit" The Master values the spiritual much more than the temporal. Further, "Blessed are those who thirst after righteousness". This isn't a sermon about wealth transfer. Lastly, He said "when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth". Thus, the rush to prove one's great morality by how much you care about the poor, to me, is inconsistent with the Sermon. I think the Sermon is one of the great treasures we have and I do study it often.


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