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I live in a free country, but what is most important isn’t free – life.

Ok, I am not anti-America, I am not a socialist, and I am not a hippie. Now that that is clear, let us continue.

Over my 30 years of life, I have had the advantages of being everything from lower class living in my car to owning a home in one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States. Over these years I have noticed some thing that has always bothered me. Living isn’t free, but everything else is. So let me break this down based on the basic necessities in order to live.

1. Air: We breath this stuff, if they could charge for it, I imagine they would. Remember that scene in Spaceballs where the president is sniffing down some canned oxygen?

2. Water: If you don’t have water, you are going to die period, as a large portion of our bodies are made up of this, we need to continue to replenish what is lost. Is water free? Yes actually, there are many state laws that require that gas stations provide free water, not to mention lakes, rain, and other sources of water we can get our hands on. Granted, you might want to boil most of it before drinking on a free fire.

3. Food: Ok, this one is a bit trickier, and requires a bit of planning, but guess what, still free. There are tons of edible plants that grow wild, as well as being able to collect seeds and grow all kinds of vegetables. Although the majority of people prefer others to do that work for them and pay for the end results, nasty chemicals and additives usually non-optional.

Ok, so those are our primary 3 things we need to survive. At least until the age of 30.  Which is generally when nature thinks our body is done, and begins to fall apart. So what do we do now? We usually end up going to the doctor when something starts to go wrong, get guidance on how to be better (less nasty chemicals and additives, more moving around) and in most cases, we get yummy medicine and treatments that helps us get better.

Now, lets say that I am not the perfect specimen of human genetics, and one of my organs fail like my appendix. If you don’t know, if your appendix blows, and you don’t get immediate medical attention, you are going to die. Or lets say that I have a problem were another organ, say the gall bladder, starts deciding to send shooting pains through my entire body because it has stones in it and can’t function? Again, get to the doctor, get it fixed, or live with pain that causes you to barely be able to see straight and you can’t stand up without screaming in agony. By the way, I was told (I don’t have references) that the reason for gall stones is unknown and seems to happen randomly in all ranges of age, sex, and races.

This is were I got confused. I can live as long as I can if I am healthy in a country that supports it and as a matter of a fact is based on freedoms of all types, yet when it comes to a point where I am no longer “my best”, I must hunt down someone who will put a price tag on what my life is worth and fix it, if I can afford it.

Who exactly is the one that decides what my life is worth? And honestly, why do I have to pay to live due to something beyond my control?

Recently a story came up, that a lot of people are familiar with, mainly because the sister of the person this is about is a CNN news anchor. A person is unable to get a heart transplant because his state doesn’t have the facilities to do it. Oh yeah, he only has government insurance and because he has a pre-existing condition, he can’t get any other insurance. A heart transplant can start at around $200,000, but usually varies greatly based on the hospital and doctor doing it, most likely it will be 2 to 4 times that in the end. Another funny thing is some insurance companies don’t cover transplants.

So there is a guy out there right now, who is basically told by the government that is there to take care of us that he doesn’t have a choice but to die or pay out of pocket. Granted they are petitioning like crazy, that was the response from officials.

Die? Really, that is what we have to do if we don’t have money.

I am a firm believer in free enterprise, I think it is awesome that someone can develop something, patent, manufacture, and sell said “things”, but is life part of free enterprise?

These pharmaceutical companies, medical providers, doctors (more on this in a second), and medical equipment developers are seriously walking a fine line in my opinion. Most of these companies are probably working off of grants for the research and development of these new technologies and drugs and they turn around and sell the services for MASSIVE profits, for example GE. There revenue from medical devices was just over $17 billion last year, yet they less than $1 billion on research and development. That is a $16 billion difference, for those that have trouble with math. Now lets look at a drug company, such as Pfizer who in the first quarter of this year reported revenues of almost $11 billion. Seriously… we are in a recession and this company is still bringing in $11 billion in revenue. Oh wait, that is because people getting sick isn’t related to the economy, we still need drugs for our conditions.

Now, lets talk about doctors for a second. Doctors are required to take an oath before they can practice, this “Hippocratic Oath” has been around for so long and is the guidance for the basic morals for a person who will treat others. It has been updated to be less Greek, but it still has the same basis. These are the issues I have with most doctors.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

Does doing harm include telling someone “I can not treat you, you don’t have money?”.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

Again, does this mean that if someone doesn’t have money, they get treated differently?

To answer both of those questions, absolutely not, they mean just the opposite. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are doctors out there who abide by these, and many doctors whom I respect quite a bit for helping out with the poor and diseased in other countries, we just rarely get this treatment in our own. Which is down right retarded. (sorry, couldn’t find a better word for that)

Due to the fact that I am just getting more angry the more I think about it, I leave you with a final thought:

If a cure for cancer is ever found, who will we be able to afford it, and will insurance companies have a committee to decide if they will pay for it?

I decided to add this last bit: This opinion is only based on medical treatment you need to survive and function, not to gain anything. Cosmetic surgery (there are still some special cases where I have an issue like disfigurements), “feel good” meds, and a few others are pretty much pay to be better stuff.

Published Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:25 PM by Tom Anderson


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