Among all of the nonsense and hyperbole surrounding President Obama’s health care plan is the claim that one provision is for “death squads” that will make the decision whether people in need will live or die. According to the conspiracy theory crowd that thrives on doom and gloom, if you are elderly or not a “valued” member of society, you can be denied health care under the President’s plan, and be allowed to die.
Like with most such rumors, somebody took a small kernel of fact and twisted it into a story to fit their purpose. The original plan called for free counseling to be made available to elderly Americans about advance directives and living wills. They would have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, based upon their own beliefs and morals, about whether or not they want to be kept alive by artificial means if they become incapacitated or unable to speak for themselves in the future.
I have an advance directive ordering that, in the event of my becoming unable to make my own decisions, my wife has the authority to refuse to allow me to be hooked up to machines to keep me alive, if there is no hope of recovery. Anyone who has been to a Veterans Administration hospital, and most civilian hospitals, is asked if they have such a document, or if they want one.
So no, the government is not looking for an excuse to pull the plug on you if you need a hip replacement or other medical care. All they want to do is make you aware of your options, and allow you to make your own decisions about what you do and do not want done. There are no plans for government bureaucrats to rubber stamp “Dead” on your medical files. It’s just more right wing crapola.
However, we already have such “death squads” making life and death decisions for us, based solely upon dollars and cents. We’ve had them for years. They are called insurance companies. And you will never find a group of more cold hearted people then the bean counters at your favorite insurance company; those nice folks you pay those big premiums to every month. They think nothing of denying you the medical services you paid them to cover, for any reason they can dig up, if it can increase their bottom line.
Need a medical procedure that can keep you alive? Your medical professionals determine what you need, explain it to you, you make the decision to go forward, and they schedule it, right? You’d think that would be a no brainer.
But it doesn’t always happen that way. All too often, your doctor has to submit a request for authorization to your insurance company, where it is reviewed by somebody who works for that company, to determine if they will approve the procedure. Now, who do you think that employee has a vested interest in? You, or the outfit that pays him or her?
We have all heard the horror stories of insurance companies denying approval for needed medical procedures, or denying care completely, leaving clients who paid their premiums in good faith to suffer, in the name of the almighty dollar. I have experienced it in my own family.
Nine years ago, when my wife was diagnosed with Stage Four cervical cancer, the health insurance company we had faithfully paid our premiums to for years refused to cover any part of her treatment. Their reason? We had changed our state of residence from Arizona to Texas eighteen months earlier, and our policy had a 24 month exclusion for pre-existing conditions.
What we did not know, and what they never told us when we changed our legal domicile, was that even though the policy had been in force for years, the clock started ticking all over again the day we sent them our new address. They told me that if we still had Arizona listed as our address, she would have been covered. But because of the address change, she was left out in the cold. Some jackass sitting at a desk somewhere found a loophole and the company used it to screw us. My wife’s life meant nothing to them. Profit was all that mattered.
So how come people are all fired up about wild rumors with no basis in fact, yet we have tolerated the same thing by the private sector forever, and allowed insurance companies to make life or death decisions, based upon profit and loss?