A few days ago, in a dinner conversation that swerved further into politics than I care for at social events, a friend tossed out the stat that some enormous percentage of health care spending or health care consumption occurs during the final month of people's lives.
Most of the table responded with knowing, sad nods - except for me. I asked, "What does that mean? If only people died sooner, we'd all save a lot of money?"
Nobody really had an answer. They'd heard and accepted that statistical trivia for so long as a way to illustrate health care waste and overspending that they'd never stopped to consider that in fact, that stat means exactly nothing. After all, when do people go to the hospital? When they're young? Not so much. When they're healthy? Never.
A few weeks ago, somebody very close to me went to the hospital by way of care flight helicopter. She had massive internal bleeding, and during emergency surgery, her heart stopped for ten minutes. She was revived and spent a few days in the ICU. All indications now, thank God, are that she will be fine. My own experience informs me, though, that her care and stay probably amounted to over a million dollars. And the fact is that many, if not most people in her situation would not have lived.
So when her heart stopped, should the surgical team have shrugged and said "You know, I think we've spent enough time and money on this case already."
Health care is not a finite resource. It isn't a bowl of soup being passed around a table. And aggregate spending is not the same thing as cost inflation.
A few years ago, while advocating his own health care law, President Obama slandered doctors by suggesting that they commonly choose to remove tonsils rather than prescribe antibiotics. In all my years interacting rather extensively with doctors in a variety of specialties, I have never once met one who decided on a course of care based on how much he could charge for it.
On the contrary, it is liberals like the president who reduce moral and human concerns to dollars and cents. Such shallow secularism is one of the drivers for more recent decisions, such as the unconscionable attack on the Catholic Church, mandating that it fund, contrary to all of its own teaching, its employees contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions. Sterilized people have fewer children, so such procedures are less costly in the long-term. To liberals, this consideration trumps all others.
The simple fact is that liberals like Obama place more value on the commodity of health care than they place on the human life it exists to preserve. That is beyond ironic.
Don't you think?