Go Quietly, Old People
By David Henderson
My review of bio-ethicist Daniel Callahan’s new book, Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System, was posted on-line yesterday. In it, Callahan advocates rationing health care to the elderly, not allowing them to get some health care even if they’re willing to pay for it themselves.
A few pages later he advocates forbidding certain “marginal” benefits, which he admits could be life-saving, to be covered — not only by Medicare, but also by private insurance. Again, to prevent private insurance from covering these benefits would require coercion. Interestingly, one of the people who would need to be coerced is Daniel Callahan.
Early in the book, he tells quite humorously about the 10 diagnostic scans and tests he had at his last physical, the total cost (he means “price”) of which was $5,500. His tale of how far the doctor went is hilarious. My comment:
So, in spite of decades of his own learning and observation, which led him to conclude that far too much is invested in medical technology for the elderly, and despite his statement that “I have an obligation at our moment in history, and at my stage of life (age 79), to make use of as little expensive technology as possible,” he did not follow through. Bioethicist, heal thyself.