Who Decides When?

In the debate about Sarah Palin’s use of the phrase “death panels” in opposing complete overhaul of the nation’s health insurance, one point has escaped scrutiny. The highest payout for health care occurs during the last 6 months of an individual’s life. It is felt, by some, that one way to limit the overall costs of health care is to focus on reducing the costs realized during those final six months. Now, of course, this could be achieved by rationing the procedures, medications, hospitalizations, etc. provided during that period. Some describe this as “pulling the plug on grandma.” Some have even suggested that it would be an elderly person’s patriotic duty to forgo expensive medical treatment, you know, just step onto the ice-flow and sail off into oblivion.

The problem is that no one actually knows when a person’s last six months commence. True, old people do get sick, but they also recover. Often, they defy the odds; fall outside the statistical range of probability. Sometimes they experience “miracle” cures.

Some older people do remarkable things during their final days on earth,
Galileo lived to be 78. In 1640 he invented the first pendulum clock. At the time, he was within two years of his eventual death in 1642. Beethoven conducted the first performance of his 9th Symphony within 3 years of his death and had started composing a Tenth. Mozart died one day after conducting a performance of his uncompleted Requiem.

Are we expected to believe that, under Obamacare, a panel of bureaucrats, armed with actuarial tables, comparative life-expectacy statistics, and the like, will be prepared to decide when those “superfluous” last days begin?

One response to this post.

  1. I don’t see why we would be expected to believe it, since it isn’t in any of the proposed legislation.


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