Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fear, Self, and Health Care

I want health care for everyone. I want rich and poor to have the same opportunity to their life pursuits unencumbered by hunger, lack of shelter, and poor health. But when someone says, "I need this medicine" or "I need this operation," without taking into consideration the effect it has on other members of my community, I worry that fear may be driving us to selfish decisions.

How can I justify spending thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, to prolong my life at age 55 when there are children that go without a proper education, or go hungry, or are forgotten? I visited Nepal a few years ago and was told that $600 would pay for schooling for a child that otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity to go to school. How can a community spend over $40,000 per year to keep someone in their seventies alive using modern medical technology when those resources could be used to send over 60 children to school in Nepal?

I hope I have the courage to refuse expensive medical treatment. I hope the money that is saved is spent on something worthy of the exchange for my last years. I hope I am supported by my community to do what is best for the community, not what I think is best for me. When it comes to my own death, I hope I make the heroic choice, just as a soldier offers his life in exchange for defending his beliefs. I hope there will be an army of elderly who choose to fight for what is right, who back up their choice with self-sacrifice.

If you knew that the choice was between one more year of life for $40,000 or 60 children in Nepal getting a year of education, which would you choose? Why?

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