27 December 2007

Reader feedback: If insurance won't pay and a patient dies -- tough!

I recently wrote about the case of Nataline Sarkisyan, a 17-year-old California girl who died because CIGNA refused to pay for a liver transplant. Public outcry led CIGNA to reverse its decision, but it was too little, too late, and Nataline died later that same day.

Most of the feedback I got from readers called for a universal healthcare program that bypasses the for-profit insurance companies.

But then I got a disturbing note from someone on the other side of the fence, whom I'll simply refer to as "Deidre".

Deidre wrote:
What you fail to realize is that not everyone will get the same chance. You and I can both die of cancer next year. It appears that you are like everyone else. Find someone to blame!! God forbid it is not going to be your fault that your body can't fight cancer. Must be the insurance companies (sic) fault!! Maybe we can blame you when a tree falls in your way and you swerve and hit and kill a child on a bike. We can put you in jail for murder as well. Hey! We have to blame someone for the death of the child. People get sick and die. If they can't afford it, tough. That is how it works. The weak humans die.
There you go. If they can't afford it, tough. The weak humans die.

And that, to Deidre, is just the way it is, so get over it.

To Deidre:

I sincerely hope that you never find yourself in Nataline's shoes. If, perish the thought, you do, I will be the first to fight for your rights as a patient.

That is because you are a human being, and all human beings deserve better than what Nataline got.

I would like to remind you of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which, as noted in my original article, proclaims that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Yes, it's a human right: Medical care and security in the event of sickness or disability.

And didn't Jesus Christ himself make a career of curing the sick and defending the weak?
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. -- Matthew 25:40

1 comment:

  1. Mary, one of the biggest problems in health care is that health insurance is regarded as health care rather than the financial product that it is. There's no reason not to expect health insurance companies to aim to make a profit. Just like any other insurer, they need to charge proportionate to the risk. And unfortunately, economic decisions must come into play in health care. Resources are finite, so some tradeoffs always need to be made. Can we do better? Of course. Let's consider the late Ms. Sarkisyan. She was extremely ill and likely to die in months even with the transplant. The hospital did not offer to go ahead with the surgery, the doctors and nurses did not offer, nor did the protesters offer to pay. In fact, the only entity to voluntarily pay for it (albeit too late) was the so-called villain in this situation. Not being Christian, I wouldn't bring up Christ, but since he was, I'll pose this question. Why don't more people act like Christ? The answers to this aren't going to come from bossing around and bullying people and companies around via the government. People are afraid to dig into their own pockets to pay their own money. They're afraid (or too selfish) to volunteer their time and labors. Unless people become willing to truly act Christian, things won't change any time soon.