Healthcare is Not Broken, Values are Broken
A ninety year old woman is dying of leukemia. Her eighty-six year old husband is dying of congestive heart failure. Recently their doctors initiated hospice. Hospice is a Medicare funded program where the patient is given comfort drugs, and there is a cessation of life sustaining efforts. Prior to hospice, both were treated under standard Medicare programs, of which they became eligible to receive in the 1980’s. Preceding Medicare, the couple paid for their medical care out-of -pocket and through medical insurance that they purchased. Until they reached the mandatory age for Medicare, they received not one dime of government assistance. Rather, they continuously worked hard to become eventually eligible to receive the government benefits that they paid for with their taxes. Now they have around-the-clock in-home care givers paid from the couple’s own personal saving accounts. Hospice assists in making the couple as comfortable as possible, as death waits in the wings. The story is not captivating, nor highlights governmental inequities, so the main stream media would not deem it worthy of attention.
A twenty-four year old man is hospitalized with leukemia, and he has no health insurance. His doctors struggle to find a specialized hospital to accept him and to get him qualified for emergency Medi-Cal coverage. This man’s medical condition is a personal tragedy. But, his lack of health insurance is of his own making, and the local newspaper features his plight on the front page.
The 24-year-old musician and sometimes construction worker from Simi Valley was like a lot of people his age. He was going to live forever. He didn't need insurance and couldn't afford it. If he became sick, someone would take care of him because that's the way the world works.
From the local newspaper, Vega’s life revolves around neither personal nor financial responsibility.
Vega, who was born in South Lake Tahoe, (the South Lake Tahoe qualifier is no doubt inserted to inform the readers that Vega is not an illegal alien) has lived in Simi Valley since he was a teenager. He lays tile when he can find work, but his life revolves around his band, Old School Crisis, his girlfriend and his friends.There is plenty of new residential construction in Simi Valley. Maybe he’s not a good tile setter.
Vega’s current hospital was forced to accept him when he showed up at their emergency room. His condition requires specialized treatment not available in most hospitals. Because he has no health insurance, nor any ability to pay, the specialized hospitals refused to accept him as a transfer from his current hospital.
Vega hit the nail on the head when he stated,
"I didn't have insurance, and I knew it would cost me an arm and a leg," he said Monday from a glassed-in hospital room. "Just the doctor's visit — I talked to her for about five minutes. That was $437."Vega could afford the “arm and a leg” if he were responsible enough to get a full-time job. He could afford to purchase health insurance with his disposable income if he was willing to forego some routine creature comfort or frivolous expenditure. Instead, he is a leech sucking from the public trough, both government and private.
Late at night on the second Thursday of November, the Vegas took things into their own hands. Acting against medical advice, Vega discharged himself from Simi Valley Hospital. Dressed in sweats and a T-shirt, he was rolled in a wheelchair to his friend's truck.
They left a hospital that couldn't provide what they needed in favor of one that could. They drove 24 miles to Olive View, went into the emergency room and demanded care.
Hospitals can refuse patient transfers but are required by federal law to treat people who come to the emergency room. The gambit worked. Vega was not only treated, he was admitted and told he could get chemo even though his Medi-Cal application hadn't yet been approved.
Vega worked the system all right. The government forces the hospital emergency room to accept him. His unpaid costs are absorbed by the hospital, which then raises everyone else’s hospital and insurance rates. The government compounds the theft by reaching into your pocket and removing more dollars to pay for Vega’s Medi-Cal benefits. He benefits through no effort on his own. He benefits precisely because he is irresponsible.
The medical care system is not broken. However, the personal values for many people are broken. And, the government’s growing nanny state mentality is facilitating personal irresponsibility under the guise that government is required to operate a “safety net.”
I am not totally cold hearted. I’d be willing for the government to offer Vega hospice drugs to ease his suffering, as his family and friends care for him until death. Under these circumstances, Vega’s continuing life is not a social responsibility, nor a proper government function.
Link in this Blog:
Uninsured cancer victim fights for treatment