Sunday, September 02, 2007

The morality of health care finance

As a class, are the old and sick needier than the young and healthy? No they are not. They have more assets and less poverty than any other group.

As a class, are the old and sick unluckier than the young and healthy? Considering people as beings with duration in both time and space, no they are not. The overwhelming majority of old and sick people were once young and healthy. They got to be young and healthy, and old and sick.

As a class, are the young and healthy more responsible for the bad health of the old and sick? Quite the reverse. Many people in the old and sick category did nothing at all to deserve their fate; they just aged or were victims of fate. But some members of the "old and sick" class contributed to their fate. Contra many of my interlocutors, there are a lot of very expensive diseases that have a substantial lifestyle component: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema/COPD, congestive heart failure . . . many of our nation's biggest killers, and consumers of health care dollars. So as a class, the old and sick are somewhat responsible for their poor healthcare outcomes, although I will leave it up to the doctors to argue exactly how much responsibility they bear.

No comments: