First, a point of order: this post is not about the efficacy, necessity or morality of organ donation. I happen to think that it's a good idea, and my driver's license affirms that. However, it was, and is, my choice to make available whatever body bits for which medical science can find a use after my demise.
But our Cousins Across the Pond may have other ideas about that; at the beginning of this year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown opined:
"(A) system of presumed consent could save thousands of lives and “close the aching gap” between the benefits of organ transplants and “the limits imposed by our current system of consent.”
In Britain, as here, the current default position regarding the ownership of one's organs is that they are the individual's, the citizen's, to do with (pretty much) as they please. That is, doctors do not have the power of the state to force folks to donate their own, or other's, organs or anatomical parts. But PM Brown proposes to turn that very fundamental right on its ear (or spleen, etc), arguing that indeed the state is the best judge of how we dispose of our bodies.
And that, I'm afraid, is a slippery slope indeed. Because we're not just talking about post-mortem remains here, but living tissue and organs (and arms and legs, for that matter). Don't want to donate one of your two well-functioning kidneys? Too bad, you have no say in the matter.
That's all very interesting, Henry, but what does that have to do with insurance?
Over the years, we've catalogued a lot of misfires undertaken by the MVNHS©, and this is precisely the agency that would be responsible for implementing this widespread initiative. The good news is that, PM Brown's authoritarian leanings aside, said initiative is unlikely to be implemented in the near future. But it is instructive that the discussion is even taking place: what kind of government would presume to excercise ownership rights over the individual?
And while we're on the subject of health care, death and the MVNHS©, regular reader and commenter Scott M tips us to this gem:
"Jack Rosser's doctor says taking Pfizer Inc.'s Sutent cancer drug may keep him alive long enough to see his 1-year-old daughter, Emma, enter primary school. The U.K.'s National Health Service says that's not worth the expense." [emphasis added]
Mr Rosser's advanced kidney cancer could be treated by the drug, but the $4,650 per-treatment price tag was apparently too much for the compassionate, gummint-run health care system. And for those folks who still believe, despite all the contradictory evidence, that a nationalized system is the way to go, there's this to chew on:
"The NHS...is spending about 100 billion pounds this fiscal year, or more than double what it spent a decade ago, as the cost of treatments increase and the population ages."
So they've had no more success in reining in costs than we have, and since health care costs drive health insurance costs, the British taxpayer's taking more than one shot to that famed stiff upper lip. Which then exacerbates the problem thusly:
"The higher costs are forcing the NHS to choose between buying expensive drugs for terminal patients and providing more services for a wider number of people."
For proof, one need only look to the Canterbury-based charity Rarer Cancers Forum, which claims that over 25% of cancer patients "lose their appeals for regulator-approved drugs each year because of cost."
Or, as we might more succinctly call it: "rationing."
Still want to go there?
[Hat Tip: reader Scott M]