Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting without Giving

The following came to me in an email. I have included the comments by the young doctor and my thoughts on his concerns.

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes, and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone.  While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"!

During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. 

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care?  I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses.  Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. 

It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me." 
Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.

It is worth the read - but how many others did he work on who don't have all the flashy stuff and would not go to the ER for treatment because they know they are not insured. There must be an "in between" a way to treat people who need health care and maybe a way for them to give back to society for what they get.

Years ago in one of my first sociology classes we talked about giving assistance while requiring something in return. The prof talked about how it is unethical to give with strings - consequently, if I give money to a panhandler (for instance) I no longer tell that person how spend it so if it goes to booze the values of the person remain paramount. As I age, I see that I would like to have strings or accountability attached to some things. But food, shelter, health care, safety are basics. No one should go without - nor should everyone get palatial housing, gourmet meals or expensive and extensive elective surgery/treatment.

As a society, we need to struggle with this. So, I am going to blog this. I will leave the doc's name off.

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