Human Exceptionalism

Michael Kinsley Wants Baby Boomers to Submit to Death Panels

Michael Kinsley thinks Baby Boomers are a failed generation. I agree.  We have been the most self satisfied and smug generation in this nation’s history–with the least about which to be smug and self satisfied, unless self absorption is warrants such attitudes. But…

We should not, out of guilt, submit to health care rationing.  But Michael Kinsley thinks we should–as sort of our form of World War II sacrifice that marked our parents’ generation.  From the end of his current article in the Atlantic:

One final thought: as we learned during the health-care debate, citizens of other advanced countries live longer than Americans, while spending far less per person on health care. How can that be? Well, it’s partly that they don’t try to save people through heroic, expensive, long-shot efforts, most of which fail. You’ve seen the figures: for example, last year Medicare spent $50 billion on the last two months of life. Trouble is, we don’t know when we’re two months from the end. CBS’s 60 Minutes reported last year that “20 to 30 percent” of this $50 billion “may have had no meaningful impact.” Of course, all $50 billion had very little meaningful impact, if the patient died within two months. It’s easy enough to be in favor of not paying for treatments that do nothing. The tough decisions involve treatments that do something, but not much. Or treatments they’re not sure about.

Even putting costs aside, if you could choose at the beginning of your life which health-care system you’d prefer to live under, you’d pick the one where you’d probably live longer, no? Yes, that medical system involves “rationing,” but rationing already goes on here, more than we admit. Why not make it official? Let’s be honest: such a system would cost some Boomers their lives, but they would die in their 80s or 90s, unlike the teens and 20-somethings who gave their lives in World War II. Just a thought.

We have much for which to answer. But a quasi generational death penalty for us when we are most in need of care?  I think not.