We all mourn the loss of a child. An innocent life, whether at the hands of a disease, a fatal accident, or deliberate tragedy touches our souls.
The events of Alfie Evans was a tragic one, a child born with a defect that did not quite kill him but did not allow him to be saved. The limits of medicine, and when it might be time to say goodbye
And people attempting to make this about what it is not.
I am not going to go into a long drawn out rehash of the situation. A child was born with a defect. The doctors felt that there was nothing they could do. They had exhausted every known treatment for a disease that is so rare, only about 16 cases of it are recorded.
The doctors in the case and doctors across the world stated that it was inhumane to keep Alfie alive this way. In a semi-vegetative state with no hope for recovery. The parents, hoping agaisnt hope for a cure, for a miracle were willing to try anything.
Moving Evans to Italy was not for some miracle treatment. It was not for some cure waiting for him.
It was to continue his hospice care. Indefinitely. A body kept alive because we cannot come to grips with the simple fact that medicine cannot always save.
It was never about saving or curing Alfie.
Then before his body was even cold, critics of socialized medicine were decrying this as murder at the hands of a faceless government bureaucracy. The same conservative populace that accuses the anti-gun crowd of using gun victims to further their agenda, is doing the same thing.
This story touches upon the very heart of several key areas where modern society and morals are not in step. And many have never let a human tragedy story go to waste to further an agenda.
A Tale of Two Systems
Only a person that has forgotten the pre-ACA system or has never needed to rely on health care would support the pre-ACA system.
Let us dispel some myths.
You never had doctor choice.
If you were lucky enough to have insurance, each plan had provider lists. On it, you had the doctors and services that your insurance would pay for. You could see people outside your network, but you were out the entire cost. If you needed a specialist, and none of the local specialists were “in network,” you would be forced to travel to see their specialist.
You and Your Doctor were never in control.
I love hearing Hannity, Limbaugh, and all the others talk about the control you lost or lose under such plans as Medicare for all or a socialized plan. Insurance companies were and still are notorious for deciding what medicines and procedures they will pay for.
As a diabetic, I have been moved from one insulin to another for no other reason than my insurance company no longer covered it. Not for any reason other than they wanted a cheaper prescription. I could see a move from name brand to a generic, but all the modern insulins are name brand. While I was fighting a foot infection, my doctor wanted to try a procedure that would work for my health but was denied by insurance. We needed to go through two more lengthy hospitalizations before they would approve the cheaper original procedure.
Any procedure you have is not decided by medical need from your doctor, but ultimately by whether your insurance company will pay for it.
Let us be completely honest about the case of Alfie Evans, it was socialized medicine that kept him alive as long as he was. If the Evans lived in the US, they would have been racked with a mountain of medical debt. Their insurance would have stopped coverage quite a while ago (if they could even afford it), and treatment stopped. They would have been a young family forced to try and keep their infant alive on a GoFund Me Account.
Competition is best.
I am not going to argue that. competition does spring innovation. However, I do not see how that could mean opposition to Medicare for all, opposition for the ACA, or support for the pre-ACA system. To begin with, insurance is not the performance of medical services. It is not the wellness system or healthcare system that makes you well.
It is merely the way that such services are funded.
So, if I use Medicare, or an ACA insurance plan to go to a doctor or other provider, then I do have a choice of doctors. It does breed competition. The fairest way to make it, the way to open up the doors to competition is to put all healthcare providers on a single network and let the patient decide which doctor to see.
Medicare in a nutshell.
The basic problem conservatives have is they feel that it is perfectly okay for your insurance company to decide through actuarial tables that further care is not going to change the outcome. But oppose it when the government does it.
Die-hard supporters of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act feel it a travesty when insurance companies make the call. But seem to be okay with the government doing it.
The human response should be to call it a travesty and an immoral crime when either does it. The only one making that call should be you and your doctor.
No nameless corporate drone or government bureaucrat should ever be in the mix unless absolutely necessary.
I have a personal interest in this story, in a sense, I am Alfie Evans.
Back in 2007/2008, I began having to battle a bone infection in my right foot. Being diabetic it was an ongoing nightmare.
However, my podiatrists and my doctors all agreed, with the right amount of antibiotics, they could save the foot.
I remember one episode, the doctor stated, “ten weeks of IV antibiotics and we have it beat.”
Blue Cross/Blue Shield, my insurance, said at week 6, that they felt the treatment was adequate as is and would pay no more. So I was released to go home.
And was back in the hospital in 4 months. During a 4 year period of hospitalization and being released, not when the doctor said so, but when insurance felt enough treatment was done, I spent a year in the hospital.
I ended up losing the foot.
So excuse me when I have trouble keeping a straight face when Conservatives say that Medicare for all would take away Doctor input over treatment and give it to a faceless bureaucrat.
Corporations already do it. And what is worse, they do it for profit.