Spending to Death

As I was doing some looking around about medical insurance vs. hospital expenses, I found this interesting article on end of life medical spending. Did you know that Medicare pays out 30% of annual benefits on the 5% of covered people experiencing medical issues during the last few months of their life?

“Very few people, when told of a potential life-saving intervention, will not be willing to listen. So the question is now not whether it will help or not, but who pays?” says Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, at the University of Michigan.

I thought about this a lot a few years ago when my mother-in-law’s husband lay dying in the hospital after a head-on collision. He was taking Plavix (a blood thinner), so any internal bleeding was generally not good. Even with this problem and the fact that he was in a coma and, in his case, likely suffering from brain damage, my mother-in-law had a feeding tube installed. Three days later, he died.

I think with someone you love, you’d be inclined to do everything you could to sustain life, in the absense of a DNR order.

But what if it was you making your own decisions? Would I spend $18,000 a treatment for an experimental drug that my insurance didn’t cover? No. I might ask the drug company for help, if I really believed it might help for a few months or years. But there’s no way I would take $18k out of my family’s hands to possibly sustain my life… I mean… what would they live on after I passed away.

I know it sounds mean, but I feel that if it came to sustaining my life at the great expense of others, I would say “no”. Of course, no one knows for sure till they get there, how desperate they’ll be in that circumstance. But my own mind, rationally thinking, would definitely refuse.

Also, I wonder about quality of life. What would be more energy depleting or depressing… treating, or allowing nature to take it’s course?

As for being in a coma where someone even considers life support/feeding tube… how likely is it that I would be me, if I ever came out of a coma? Doesn’t look good? Don’t put the feeding tube in.

Sorry to be so depressing, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?


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