September 7, 2015

When the State Thinks Health Care Is Too Expensive

Only the family and the patient can make the decision.

One of the most difficult moments for a family caring for a loved one receiving end-of-life medical care is deciding when enough is enough. Only the family and the patient can make the decision when it is time to stop treatment, unplug the machines and say goodbye. But the bureaucrats running the National Health System in Great Britain decided that one cancer treatment is too expensive for its citizens and removed it from the list of covered cancer medicines. As The Guardian reported, the NHS removed the drug Kadcyla because while the drug is designed to extend the life of someone with an advanced stage of breast cancer, the treatment cost the equivalent of $137,000 per year. In other words, the state made the cost-benefit decision for the patient. There are hints that such thinking exists in the United States’ health care system, as bioethicist and ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel said last year that he thinks he will have “lived a complete life” by the time he turns 75 and that Americans are obsessed with extending their life as long as possible. Translation: Government can determine your life’s worth. And in his analysis of NHS’s decision, National Review’s Wesley Smith notes NHS covers procedures like artificial insemination for lesbians, but it will not do everything in its power to fight a fatal disease like breast cancer. This raises the question: Where does government get its moral code? Too often, it’s formed from what the majority believes or from what the special interests lobby for. And that creates havoc when it meets medical ethics.

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