Saturday, 8 January 2011

WTF, Arizona

I often find myself defending the Canadian healthcare system to misinformed Americans.  But, to be fair, Canadians are often also misinformed about the American healthcare system, the largest misnomer being that poor people in the US have no access to any sort of medical care and are just left to  die on the streets should they become ill.  That perception is not entirely fair because emergency rooms are obligated to provide care regardless of ability to pay (although recipients of such care will be obligated to pay for it it) and the Medicaid program exists for very poor people.  But, it seems that the Canadian impression of the draconian nature of the US system is becoming increasingly accurate.   Two people have died recently in Arizona for reasons that can be traced back to the state's decision to have its Medicaid program stop funding transplants for non-relatives.   The state will save about $3-4 million by cutting this program and it will probably affect about 100 people.   We don't know details about the second person affected, but the first man was only 37 years old.  

I acknowledge that containing health care costs will likely require declining to perform any and all medical treatments.  I just find it mind boggling that we make a person's wealth, rather than life expectancy, cost and likelihood of success, a main criterion for making those kinds of assessment.

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