My Proposal: Let Them Die
James R. Scott
Our great nation currently faces many issues that threaten our future prosperity. I would like to address one of these and a solution that I have come upon to combat it. Currently we have approximately 50 million uninsured citizens in America. Some may argue that some form of universal health care may provide a solution. I believe in a simpler solution. I believe that refusing treatment in emergency rooms and prison infirmaries to anyone without insurance is the answer. Eventually the uninsured will die off. This answer also solves several other issues with which America is currently struggling. This initiative will free up jobs, cells in prison, and also reduce the ranks of those who would have eventually collected social security. This measure will also in time revitalize an aging workforce. This plan is not an instantaneous solution; it will take time to see the results. I propose this initiative be called the “Let Them Die Plan.”
I must confess that this idea is not fully mine. The inspiration comes from former governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul. In an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Pawlenty states “One thing you could do is change the federal law so that not every ER is required to treat everybody who comes in the door even if they have a minor condition. They should be –If you have a minor condition, rather than being at the really expensive ER, you should be at the primary care clinic.”(Van)
While I believe Pawlenty is on the right track. I feel that he is certainly taking a far too soft approach on the issue. Ron Paul also addressed this issue in a speech to the tea party. Paul suggested that care for the uninsured should be the responsibility of churches. It is unfair to put this obligation on these organizations whose primary goal is to enlighten the ignorant heathens of the world. Paul also adds that remaining uninsured is an issue of freedom. If someone chooses to not have insurance they are making the choice not to receive treatment. A man should be free to choose his fate (Tea).
There are two key areas in which health care is actually provided without payment in this country, in the emergency room and prison infirmaries. In order for hospitals to accept Medicare patients, they are required to provide treatment to unstable patients regardless of insurance. This law does not legally force hospitals to treat these patients; however a hospital that is unable to accept Medicare could not possibly stay in business for long. The hospital is not required to cure these patients just treat them to a condition of stable. Hospitals do bill these patients after release but are rarely reimbursed for the costly services they administer. Prison infirmaries also are required to treat ill prisoners. When these patients in either case are treated this care is prolonging the inevitable, and also straining an already taxed system.
The prudent thing to do would be to let these people die off. In Epidemics II.5 Hippocrates states “The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future- must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm” (Hippocrates). Uninsured persons will have very little access to future medical care. If a patient is treated to a stable condition in a hospital and then released this in essence is just prolonging the inevitable. I feel that it would be more humane to the patient and beneficial to the nation as a whole to allow nature to take its course. On his way to death, seeing that his fate was inevitable Socrates said “I regard this as a proof that what has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think that death is an evil are in error.” (Plato, The Apology). Death is not the evil that many see it as. In this case the greater good is of more importance.
The argument may be brought that the families will suffer a loss. This fate is inevitable. I argue that this will actually lessen the burden on the family. When a family member is ill or in some false sense of recovery invariably someone must take up the reins and provide care for them. This care is not only costly it provides a great deal of stress to the elected caretaker. If however treatment is refused in the first place any goodbyes and pleasantries could be resolved in a timely fashion and the family could move on with their lives.
This plan is an efficient solution to the unemployment crisis that plagues our nation. A sick worker is a less productive worker. Allowing the infirmed to die off would provide opportunities for displaced workers to once again provide for their families.
Less demand on hospitals may mean less work for its employees I believe that there will be plenty of jobs to go around when the sick are allowed to die off. Approximately 22 million uninsured patients are treated in emergency rooms each year. Some of them will recover on their own. If even half perished, that would free up a great deal of jobs to be filled by the unemployed. This boost will add a new crop of healthy motivated workers because the herd will have essentially been thinned out by the process. This process would be cyclical. As one sick worker dies a new healthy worker would be available to take his place.
This plan also lessens the burden on social security. Social security disability currently accounts for a large percentage of the funds paid out by social security. Even if someone is insured when they are first approved for disability, eventually that insurance runs out if they are not allowed to return to work. I do not see a need for prolonging the process. In the cases where an individual has insurance, a triage should be made. This triage should then be referenced to a scale that predicts possibility of full recovery. If there is no possibility of full recovery then insurance should be revoked and this person should no longer have a right to be a drain. If by some miracle they recover then they can rejoin the ranks of productive society and once again retain insurance. The scale could be something similar to the current level of disability scale.
To demonstrate that I feel this idea is a grand idea. I submit that even I should be held to this standard. I had a stroke and was taken to the hospital by family. I was admitted and treated for a number of days. When released I was far from well. I was given instructions to follow up with numerous specialists however will not be seen by any because I am without insurance. I have not and will not fully recover. My productivity has suffered and my employer was obligated to let me go. This opened a seat for someone who will provide my former employer with much more value for their dollar. I also attend college; it is a struggle for me to attend. I believe that the grant money used for my attendance would better serve someone else. If my chance of recovery is questionable someone whose health is not questionable would be a much wiser investment for the people’s money. While I believe it is the duty of the citizen to avoid becoming a drain, sentimentality of the family may become an issue. I would have allowed the blood clot to eventually take my life and in turn remove myself as a burden. For this reason I believe this program has to be mandated by the government in order to remove the responsibility from the family. This program will also remove a sense of guilt that families may feel at not attempting to get the sick treated.
The argument for universal healthcare may be raised. In some perfect utopian society this idea may indeed be a possibility. I do not see how such an endeavor could be funded. I have even heard talk of rerouting funding from programs such as our military. In a time when our country is constantly under fear of attack by foreign invader it would surely be folly to reduce national defense funding. Merely to repair citizens who are going to eventually perish anyway. I have also heard the argument that funding could be freed up in areas such as research. Some would say that certain areas of research are unnecessary or even ridiculous. I feel that cutting edge research such as knowing the average penis size in the gay community is far more important to the citizens of this great nation than pulling a few extra years out of sickly people.
Furthermore even this universal health care would not address the problems of unemployment and would do nothing to reduce future candidates for social security. If everyone is provided with healthcare, the average lifespan in this country would increase and in turn there would be more people living to retirement age and draining social security. For this reason I feel the “Let Them Die” plan would be far more beneficial to our nation.
Hippocrates. MIT. The Internet Classics Archive. Web. 09 June 2012. .
Plato. “The Republic.” MIT.EDU 360 B.C.E. Web. 09 June 2012.
Tea Party Debate. Fox News, 22 Feb. 2010. Television
Van Susteren, Greta. Interview. Fox News, 22 Feb. 2010. Television
The idea originated in a philosophy class and got scrapped. I ended up getting a chance to completely rework it for a LIT class.