On Death Panels

If you’re wondering how that ludicrous “Death Panel” thing got started, here’s how it goes as I understand it:

  1. When you are past a certain age or battling a potentially (or guaranteed) terminal illness, you may wish to discuss your concerns with your doctor, particularly with respect to whether you feel you wish to undergo “heroic measures” to keep you alive once your quality of life has seriously started to decline, particularly if those measures will leave you in an even further reduced state.
  2. You doctor can (and should) bill you for this time. If you carry insurance or are on Medicare, your doctor may bill them instead. There’s even a handy code for billing for “end of life” counseling.
  3. Your insurance company, being basically The Enemy, may decide whether or not to honor this or any other claim.
  4. Your government, were it ever to step in as a “single payer” — which last time I checked was off the table — would take the place of the insurance company in item 3, and (supposedly) whatever passes for a panel of experts would decide under what circumstances a claim for “end of life counseling” would get paid. Not that I have any idea what the problem getting the government to cover an “end of life counseling” claim might be. Medicare does it all the time — as long as the patient’s age and/or general state of health warrants it.
  5. From here it kind of takes a panicked moron to take it from panel of government experts deciding which claims to pay under which circumstances (as if that’s any different from an insurance company’s panel of experts deciding which claims to pay under which circumstances) to a panel of government experts paying a doctor to talk to you about dying if they don’t want to pay for your expensive procedures anymore.
  6. Yippee! Death Panels!

“Death Panels” aside, if you’re worried about this shadowy panel of experts who decide what claims get honored and which get rejected, odds are they’d just use the same shadowy panel of experts they’ve been using to judge Medicare claims for many decades, whose names are a matter of public record and whose opinions are published with much documentation in every edition of the freely available, published online monthly (if a bit hefty in page count) Federal Register.

Conversely, it would probably take a team of spies and possibly a thug with a crowbar to reveal who the @$$hole is at your health insurance company who has turned down treatment for your teenage daughter’s sexual assault due to it somehow being a “pre-existing condition”. (Actual example from recent press — look it up on Google if you missed it.)

You’re welcome.


March 24, 2010 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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