I walked into the drug store to fill a prescription for a new nasal spray last week — the best, my doctor said, for my allergies. At the counter, the cashier said “your insurance doesn’t cover this, do you want it anyway?” That seemed like a strange question, until I asked how much it was: over $100.
I gulped, and bought it. But what if I were less fortunate, and didn’t have that cash or credit card? Most people would have trouble shelling out $100 for a single prescription. I had been effectively “rationed” by my insurance company.
That’s a small data point compared to being refused a kidney transplant, for example, but part of a much larger issue that was discussed in yesterday’s New York Times in an article called “Why We Must Ration Care.” The fear-mongers are running TV ads right now saying “don’t let the government get between you and your doctor,” and don’t let your health care be rationed as it is in Canada.
I find those ads humorous. Right now, my care is rationed, but not by the government — by an insurance company. It’s equally arbitrary, and perhaps more so, because I didn’t elect my insurance company. My Canadian friends laugh when we talk about our fear of their system, because most of them love their system. They don’t feel the effects of rationing, or at least they understand them. They know not everybody can have everything, and that a compassionate and rational rationing is better than rationing by corporate bottom lines or voices in call centers.
Health care reform is a complex issue that has been misunderstood and misperceived too often by all of us, and it’s time to take an interest in our health policy. In Arizona, as in other states, what the federal government does will impact our state finances, already precarious. It will also impact our own care. We can’t ignore it.
SLHI has invited noted bio-ethicist Arthur Caplan to explore this subject with us in September. Please register and join in the discussion.
Featured speaker Arthur Caplan was selected by DISCOVER magazine as among “the 10 most influential people in science.”
“Caplan has played a singular role in ‘democratizing’ bioethics. His tireless work in translating philosophical ideas has helped millions of people around the world develop more informed opinions about health care and biotechnology. As a champion of accountable government regulation, universal health care and individual liberty, he has applied the values of the Enlightenment to the 21st century.”
Can we continue to do everything for everybody? Who gets what, who doesn’t – and who decides? Participate in a timely, provocative presentation and discussion on September 25 at Camelback Inn.