A Microcosm of Medicare – Time Magazine’s “Bitter Pill”

The following is a true story from Time Magazine’s “Bitter Pill” article by Steven Brill:  A man in a middle class family had terminal lung cancer and he and his family knew that he was soon going to die. But, he wanted to postpone death and “kept saying he wanted every last minute he could get, no matter what.” He lived only another 11 months. The hospital bill was almost a million at $902,452.00. This total was not a surprise because they got multiple bills in stages during the treatment when he was still alive, the first bill being $348,000, giving hints that maybe he should stop early, but he didn’t. The mother and child were left with the debt. (end of summary)

Remember that there’s no such thing as saving a physical life, only extending lifetime, because we will all die eventually. It seems terribly selfish of the man in this story, to leave behind a lifetime of painfully burdening debt to his young family just for a small extension on his own physical life. It reminds me of Medicare, where seniors represent the man in this story, and the whole country is the young family. But, there is a difference:  at least the man and family voluntarily chose to be in this debt with their own money. In Medicare, seniors force others to be in debt without a choice.


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  1. Pingback: Saving a Life | NOR GATE Libertarianism

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