Blogger and Health Consultant Joe Paduda issued a scathing and profanity-laced post two days ago directed at the people in this nation who have not been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. If you are reading this and have chosen not to be vaccinated, you are, according to Paduda, an idiot or an asshole, depending on whatever paragraph of his missive you happen to be reading at the time. He has apparently tired of hearing complaints of medical resources stretched thin by the pandemic, and appears to have a relative who is currently being denied medical care based on a lack of service availability due to Covid.
I do not intend to engage in a debate over vaccines. It is not an area of expertise for me and not the reason I am responding to his article. I understand his concern regarding the shortage and unavailability of medical services. The cancellation of elective procedures has been an issue in this pandemic. Personally, I had a knee replacement scheduled earlier this month that was canceled for this same reason. While I don't have a relative in a life-threatening condition waiting for a hospital bed, I know how he feels. 4 years ago, I had a 96-year-old aunt spend 3 days in the ER (one of them in the casting room) after suffering a stroke because the hospital had no available beds. But that was in Canada under their socialized health system, and I've been assured by experts here that incidents like that either don't happen or don't matter. I can't remember which.
But I digress…
No, my reason for a response is Paduda's assertion that people who fail to vaccinate should be denied medical care if they get sick. Disturbingly, some of his commenters echoed the sentiment. One made a mention that implied we “shouldn't have to pay” for this. It is an idea that has surfaced from others as well. It is a policy Kim Jung Un or Joseph Stalin could eagerly endorse.
I suppose managed care doesn't matter when the patient's beliefs do not align with that of the collective.
As a nation, is this what we are coming to? A willingness to deny care and let people die because of their personal choices and beliefs? Before you answer that, consider this; much of the healthcare required and provided today is the result of personal choices made (often much earlier) in life. Do we want to extend that logic?
Perhaps we should have a government agency establish an EMQ or Earned Medical Quotient for patients. Each individual's life and personal decisions could be reviewed by a government-appointed board or agency to assign an EMQ, which would be used to determine what, if any, medical services could be made available to that person. Let's see how that would work.
Smokers are an easy target. They choose to smoke, which is a known health hazard, so they get a very low EMQ and therefore don't deserve any medical care. My own brother died last month after a life of heavy smoking. He died, in the hospital, from respiratory failure. His EMQ would be very low based on his poor life choices. He should have been sent home or wheeled outside to die, as we do not want to pay for his poor decision-making.
Extending the philosophy, gay men who contracted AIDS in the '80s would have fared poorly under this new system, as their failure to follow proper personal protection while engaging in risky behavior would give them a very low EMQ. I'm sure that people wanting to deny anti-vaxxers medical care would robustly endorse that action as well.
For that matter, almost anyone with an STD today would be denied medical care for the condition. After all, they clearly should have known better.
Obesity? Fat chance, pal. A life of sedentary behavior and consumption of unhealthy snacks means that no one wants to pay for your crappy life choices. No cardiovascular or pulmonary care and forget about any knee and hip replacements. Insulin is out as well. Leave that for the deserving people. As the second biggest killer in the US today, obesity would likely give you a negative EMQ. Waddle your fat ass back home and die on your own time.
Helmet-less Motorcycle Riders. Medical treatment for such irresponsible behavior? Sorry, nope. But thanks for the organs. Your heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver will be greatly appreciated by those with responsible EMQ's.
Let's take a look at pregnancy, shall we? Talk about what, in most cases, is a personal choice! If you elect not to terminate, well then that is a personal choice, and you are on your own. If we do elect to use our precious and limited resources to help you, get your wallet out.
A subsection of this particular medical condition would be the woman who walks into an ER in labor, having never visited a doctor or received any prenatal care. Sorry, no NICU (neo-natal intensive care) for your baby. That area is reserved for babies with parents who make good personal choices – although they still need to pay since having the baby was a personal choice no one wants to pay for.
And of course, since this is (usually) a workers' comp blog, we need to apply this new era of personal responsibility to workers' compensation claims. Welcome to the world of assigned responsibility. Lose your arm after sticking it in a commercial grinder without first employing the lockout/tag-out policy? Too bad. Not only does that low EMQ mean we don't have to pay for it, but the hospital wouldn't be authorized to use their precious resources to help you. And I'm not sure, but Joe may want you to pay for the clean-up.
After all, you made a stupid personal decision and have no one to blame but yourself.
Under this plan, we will save an absolute fortune as an industry.
Does this dystopian vision disturb you? Piss you off? It should. Because advocating to let people die based on their lifestyle choices is shameful and despicable. Our society has traditionally been a compassionate one. We will provide medical care to a criminal injured during the commission of a crime against others, but are now urging the denial of that care to those who do not share our viewpoints. The unvaccinated have been labeled as a danger to society. The same people advocating for the denial of care also want to make sure the unvaxxed lose their jobs and livelihoods. Are we really that far from the leper colonies and Warsaw ghettos of the past? Perhaps we haven't evolved as much as we would like to think.
Denial of health care based solely on personal beliefs. This is not who we are. We're better than that.
Or at least we used to be. Even an asshole should be able to figure that out.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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