Love Thy Neighbor in Sickness and in Health

Last night I went to parents night at my son’s new pre-school. The director read this amazon quote about the importance of caring about all children because when your child need surgery, someone else’s child will perform it and if your child is the victim of violence, someone else’s child commits it. I need to go back and source the quote because there was more too it and it was too wonderful to go uncredited but I’m too upset to hunt it down. I’m upset because of this:


That the good Congressman Dr. Paul was spouting on about personal freedom and personal risk is unsurprising. And that Wolf Blizter was baiting the candidates with the question of “Do we just let the uninsured die?” was nearly trite. But that people from the audience shouted “Yes!” with such vigor was…sad. I am sad that the idea of letting a life end for lack of money was something that prompted people to yell affirmations so vehemently.

Those people in that room failed to care about all children.

That callous disregard for human life is evidence of a certain kind of moral decay. That some Americans don’t wish to pay taxes to help care for their neighbor, that they are willing to let their neighbor actually die for lack of money under the guise of “personal freedom” is thoughtless, shallow, immature, and wrong. And it stands in contrast to the actions of actual Americans every day.

For one thing, we have a law that doesn’t let that healthy-30 year who slips into a coma die. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act says that if that man shows up at an emergency room in that condition, they have to treat him until he’s stable enough to leave and money can’t factor into that treatment. So, Ron Paul and those mob-minded crowd members were expressing ignorance of the true state of medicine. We do NOT let that man die in America and doctors an hospitals will lose money saving him.

No, the people who die are the people who have cancer and lose their coverage, who hit a lifetime or annual limit to what insurance will pay for, whose insurance companies refuses to pay for a particular course of treatment. Those are the people who risk death because we have outsourced the authorization of payment for medical care to corporations who do NOT care about human life as much as they care about profits. And Americans have not risen up to protest our enslavement to the insurance industry oligarchs. We did not dance in the streets when the President and Congress agreed to regulate insurance practices and make it harder to go along with the heartless mob who would let their neighbor die. Instead, we complain abut money. As if money matters when you have cancer. As if you wouldn’t hand over every sent just to save your life. Or your child’s life.

You should also hand it over to save your neighbor’s life. Or his child’s life.

The thing is we DO hand over money to save people. Not a day goes by when a church or a school or a community isn’t doing a fundraiser to help a family struggling with medical bills. People give to these fundraisers, generously and gladly. We are willing to pay to help. We are not an angry mob calling for our neighbor’s death. We care and we help.

Why we object to codifying that spirit and helping in an on-going, systematic, and yes, obligatory way is beyond me. I care about my child. I care about your child. I don’t want to see harm come to either of them. And I would pay to insure that it doesn’t.

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9 comments for “Love Thy Neighbor in Sickness and in Health

  1. September 13, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Ugh, now juxtapose this against the people who fight so hard and passionately to save unborn lives. Often they are the same people! It is tragic how the right to life ends at birth, and the unborn are deemed more worthy than the sentinent human beings walking the earth….

  2. DMCostorf
    September 13, 2011 at 8:28 am

    As a rule I do not like the “for the children” argument. I think it brings the debate down to a guilting you and when you are feeling harassed for the guilt you stop giving logical disagreement.


    I am so saddened by the sheer arrogance and ignorance that this country has come to. The idea that its ok to cheer the death penalty or let someone die in the street because they happen to have no money is awful. The Bible thumpers really need to go back and read the Bible. They are acting like the Pharisees in a big bad way…

  3. Amy
    September 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Last nights debate sickened me by the actions of the candidates and the audience. The candidates are all too pretty and have their own bashing agenda and the audience was appalling and inhumane.
    Great post as always.

  4. September 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Holy shit. Letting someone die because they don’t have health insurance puts us no better than third world countries. How, HOW can anyone think this is OK? This is ridiculous. I can’t even pay attention to these debates, they make me sick. The whole political climate today makes me sick, both sides, really.

  5. September 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I didn’t watch the debate but I heard about this portion. My only hope for our country is that the people who made that ignorant comment and the people who cheered are a small, VERY small minority. I also hope that they never find themselves unable to pay the bills and in shock as a notice comes in that their two year old child is suddenly uninsured. I hope they never face that horror of thinking “what if something happens during the next 48 hours before I can borrow the money to insure my child.”

    We are supposed to be better than this as a country.

  6. September 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    It makes me sick just hearing about it. I imagine those people cheering have never suffered through poverty, struggled to pay the electricity, only to come down with an emergency medical situation.

  7. September 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I have to disagree with you on Ron Paul. He chose his words poorly, but I believe that if given the opportunity to full answer that question, you would probably agree with him on some level. His aim is to make healthcare more affordable for all by providing a tax deduction on healthcare for everyone. This would help to increase free market competition in the medical field. So he would NOT allow a 30 year old man to die for lack of insurance/money. To quote him:
    “In the days before Medicare and Medicaid, the poor and elderly were admitted to hospitals at the same rate they are now, and received good care. Before those programs came into existence, every physician understood that he or she had a responsibility towards the less fortunate and free medical care was the norm. Hardly anyone is aware of this today, since it doesn’t fit into the typical, by the script story of government rescuing us from a predatory private sector.”
    I think back to my mom’s stories of how they paid for my sister’s birth. They had no insurance, so the hospital gave them a lowered rate based on their income. They made monthly payments all nine months so that my sister was essentially bought and paid for by the time she arrived. Hospitals still offer plans like that–but their starting prices are so outrageous to begin with that even a reduced rate is out of reach for most uninsured. So the bill goes unpaid, the hospital eats the loss, then drives up prices again the following year. I don’t claim to know all the answers, but I do think some of those answers could be found 50, 60 years back, you know what I mean?
    All that to say–it’s too bad that Paul will get lumped into those morons hootin’ and hollerin’ about letting some guy die. He has some very good, very innovative ideas that I fear will never reach the American public properly.
    (Gah. COULD I HAVE WRITTEN ANYMORE? You win the prize for “Making Me Write The Longest Blog Comment THIS MONTH.” Nice work, lady.)

  8. September 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    To be honest, I have seen people die because they didn’t have health insurance. There are people whom to know fault of their own, land in the wrong hospital at the wrong time. One of my favorite patients to this day was a 30-year-old male who nearly died of a spontaneous dissecting aortic aneurysm (Stanford Type A). Fortunately, he landed in the right hospital who offered open heart surgery. I was one of several physicians who saw him. I put a pacemaker in him. Following the procedure, I was the only physician that was willing to see him pro bono as follow up. I still get Christmas cards from his mother thanking me for saving her son. However, of those individuals who don’t have insurance, I would say a large number of them chose their destiny. They knew something bad was coming, and yet they chose not to seek help. Instead they waited until the last possible second, and arrived at the hospital too late. There is a point where my degree of compassion as a physician has reached its limits. When I see these people, there is an arrogance and level of expectation to these people that angers me like no other. I can spot it even before I realize they are uninsured. I am trying to feed my family, my employees and their families. I’m trying to pay for my house and put my daughters through college. This patient makes a deliberate choice that affects not only me and my employees, but also you the consumer. Your health care costs go up. It’s a broken system. But I think we as society need to take responsibility for our actions.

  9. Heidi
    September 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I live in Alberta. A providence in Canada. We have health care no matter what. We are covered here no matter what happens to you, or how long and costly the procedures, and treatments are. “O Canada!
    Our home and native land!
    ♡True patriot love in all thy sons command.
    With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
    The True North strong and free!
    From far and wide,
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    God keep our land glorious and free!♥
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”. -Canada’s national anthem.

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