Is There a Classical-Liberal Solution to this Problem?

There is no agreed-on time of death for Motl. His brain died on November 4, 2008, according to doctors, but his heart and lungs continued to pump with the help of a ventilator and numerous drugs until November 16. Because his brain had died, the medical community declared him dead. Because his heart and lungs continued to function, the Orthodox Jewish community believed him to be alive. This conflict over definitions of life and death resulted in legal and ethical struggles that occupied his family and doctors for the last two weeks of his life.

The above passage is from “A Classical-Liberal Response to the Crisis of Bioethics,” by Lauren K. Hall of the Rochester Institute of Technology. HT to Marginal Revolution

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tom H. says:

    Note: this is a problem only because the costs of the care is being paid with someone else’s money. If families are spending their own money, they’re entitled to satisfy any religious belief they happen to hold. It’s only when they are spending my money and your money that we have a major social problem.

  2. Paul H. says:

    I agree with Tom. And that is why the last-of-life dollars should be private dollars, not public dollars.

  3. artk says:

    Thank you Paul and Tom, we’ll put you in charge of the death panels. Your first task will be telling every one when to cut off Medicare: a week before death?, two weeks?; 3 months?; two years?

  4. Paul H. says:

    artk, cut people off? Your not very imaginative. Instead of paying every bill as expenses tally up, why not make end of life palliative care reimbursement a lump sum, to be controlled by the patient and family. Whatever they don’t spend, they can keep. If they exceed the allotment, they must pay from their own resources.

    Wouldn’t you prefer that type of insurance to the type Medicare offers? If so your premiums would probably be a lot lower.

  5. Virginia says:

    I say that if the church thinks this guy is alive, then the church should be in charge of paying for his care. Otherwise, let the prevailing medical wisdom be the deciding factor.

    Everyone is so afraid of death panels. We forget that some things are worse than death. Namely living in limbo for 20 years while your family fights with the insurance company/hospital/doctors to keep you alive.

  6. Virginia says:

    I just read some more of the paper. It’s an interesting application of classical liberal theories.

    There is one area that bothers me: It seems like in a traditional market (aka, we all pay our own bills), this logic should hold. We own our bodies. The government can’t tell us what to do. I can make a contract with anyone I want to do anything I want to my body.

    But, when you throw in Medicare, you’re in a world of hurt because it’s a socialized system. Everyone has some skin in it. Letting the government pay for my health care (even though I may have paid in taxes) is, in my opinion, a form of surrender. Control passes from the consumer to the government.

    Also, what can we say about individual rights for people with insurance? It seems clear that insurance comp’s can’t tell me what to eat (if I ran an insurance company, I would definitely try to control consumer’s eating/exercise habits), but does the collective (that’s what it is… at least for one area of our lives) have any control over individuals?

    Does anyone have any thoughts? Don’t we give up a lot of our rights by entering into communal payment systems?

  7. Erik Ramirez says:

    Insurance companies do try to control/instill what you eat, drink or smoke. It is called underwriting and wellness programs. Underwrinting for individual policies; wellness programs for group policies.

    Currently the question is, “Do we give up control of our bodies and what we eat, drink or smoke to qualify for insurance to a coporate entity or should there be a universal insurance pool for all?”

    If your primary doctor orders an exam that you feel you do not need, the insurance company can deny any and all claims pertaining to the diagnosis of the exam refused. So again, you are giving control of your body to a corporate entity.