Better (In The) Red Than Dead?

There was a wonderful op-ed piece in The Times the other day about the writer’s experience with choices that her aged and dying mother made in the last years of her life.  In the essay, the author noted that one-third of the entire Medicare budget is spent on the costs involved in the last year of Medicare beneficiaries’ lives.  Yes, ONE THIRD  of all costs in just the twelve months preceding  death!  That comes to about $170 billion dollars per year!  Now, when compared with the overall deficit the country is currently faced with, this is not as substantial as it sounds.  But, to paraphrase Edward Everett Dirksen (ask your mother or father), $170 billion here and $170 billion there and  pretty soon, you’re talking about real money.  

This got me thinking of ways I might use this information to help get the USA out of the financial mess it now finds itself in.  I wonder if there is some way to establish a program that might help identify which year that last year will be.  Then, all we’d need do is explain to folks how it’s probably not  going to be that much fun, and maybe with a little  cooperation and selflessness, we could start to realize some big savings. I know, I know this kind of thinking smacks a bit of the “death  panels” that Republicans insinuated into the health care debate a few years ago.  I’m not suggesting that at all.  I think it should be some kind of voluntary program. 

It’s obvious that we, ourselves, are not the best judge of our own condition.  We cling to ideas and images of ourselves that can be far removed from reality.  In my own case, I consider myself to be very healthy.  But if you sit down and talk with me, after a while, you’ll start to hear about the ringing in my ear, my bad shoulder and currently, a stubborn sinus infection.  Although I’m sure you would find this all very fascinating, I bet if you were involved with the program I’m talking about, you might gently suggest that this looks like a very tough (and costly) year coming up.  At that point, I would probably ask you to leave.  That’s the beauty of the “voluntary” part.  But at least, you would have planted a seed; one that might continue to grow and ultimately blossom into either a deep hatred or at least a mild loathing of you.  Hey… no one said changing health care would be easy. 



2 Responses to “Better (In The) Red Than Dead?”

  1. Mike McPartland Says:

    Do you think that if we legalized DAS (Doctor Assisted Suicide) and covered it with Medicare, many of us could avoid the costs of that last year?

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    good thinking. but i think the DAS should include PHDs. And possibly some people who have some credits beyond their masters degrees.

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