“Mr. Desonier, I think you can stop scheduling an annual colonoscopy from this point forward. You’ve been very diligent about this aspect of your health care for many years, but at your age, I think this procedure provides inconvenience and discomfort that you can do without.”
My dad was 84-years old when his gastroenterologist made that declaration. I never thought I’d say this, but that gastroenterologist is my hero. My father had one suspicious colonoscopy a decade or so earlier, and was advised to undergo that test every year to be certain that no cancer was present. If you’ve ever undergone this test – and you should have a baseline one after the age of 50 or earlier if you’re symptomatic – you’ll understand when I say that I’d rather have a root canal than have my colon flushed and probed every year. Here’s TMI for you: I’m 60 and had my first exam of that sort seven years ago and passed with flying colors. I’m on the ten-year plan so I have a couple years left before I hop on that table again. But I digress.
The above article will shock you to your senses as to how incentivized doctors are to keep prescribing outlandish medical procedures on their elderly patients. Most, but not all, such procedures benefit medical professionals and facilities and provide no benefit to the patients that undergo such procedures. Here’s a quote from the above article that is sickening in its implications:
Medicare spends a quarter of its $551 billion annual budget on medical treatment in the last year of life. A third of Medicare patients undergo surgery or an intensive-care-unit stay in their final year (of life.)
The author’s 80-year old father had a “stroke-blasted” body and underwent the surgical procedure of having a pacemaker installed to correct a slow heartbeat that gave him no health problems. Medicare paid $12,500 for that procedure. Her father’s family doctor didn’t approve of the cardiologist’s decision to perform that surgery. Medicare would have only paid that doctor $54 for a medical consultation with the family to weigh the pros and cons of such a procedure.
What’s the lesson here? There needs to be a greater focus on slow medicine in the form of palliative care, rather than fast medicine that dictates quick consults and immediate – and oftentimes drastic – medical intervention that robs the elderly patient of living on his own terms, and dying when its the body’s time to do so.
In my opinion, the article linked above paints a clear picture of what the 47 percent might encompass. As with any situation for which we have little understanding or exposure, it’s healthy to see what the flesh and blood of the situation equates to – put a face on it.
Making a generalization that those who don’t pay federal taxes are taking unfair advantage of government handouts seems so inaccurate – I guess that’s what generalizations are: inaccurate attempts (oversimplifications) to state something about which we have no understanding. Just about everyone with whom I associate has gone through difficult times – financial and otherwise – at some time in their lives. Not everyone stays hungry and without the means to get by – as if they would choose to remain that way year after year after year.
The above article introduces us to
- a 76-year old woman who works but is not able to pay her electricity bill;
- a well-dressed man with a Master’s degree in engineering who needs help with his rent who was very embarrassed to ask for help; and
- a woman battling cancer and diabetes at risk of losing a leg.
These individuals are not second-class citizens just because they’re going through a rough patch in life. I don’t consider myself a bad person because in the mid-1980’s I was laid off from my job as a program director at a cable TV company and had to collect unemployment insurance while looking for a replacement job. That time was temporary – as many trying times in life are.
Does this mean that everyone in need of a handout represents the “better angels of our culture?” No, there will always be those who try to bilk the system – heck, the big bankers and financiers did that very recently – and arguably, still are – and they certainly weren’t dining at the downtown food kitchen or struggling to pay their utility bills. We might categorize them as second-class citizens because of their greediness, but I dare say they look vastly different from those portrayed so cavalierly in the political arena during this current election season.