Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The cost of dying

From the SMH:

In terms of health costs, our final year of life is our most expensive. Almost all of this expense is in the last few weeks. Dying in an ICU costs more than most of us have ever paid in contributions to the Medicare levy. Nor is it a particularly pleasant experience. Evidence suggests that as many as half the people admitted to an ICU at the end of life would have chosen otherwise had they been given the choice.

I will kick off the discussion. The use of financial resources in medical care is a thorny issue and becoming all the more difficult as our ability to use ever more expensive treatments increases faster than our ability to purchase them. Personally, I know that I have already used more hospital resources than I have paid into the system (and would likely be dead already without that treatment).

Life is a good gift, to be carefully nurtured and guarded. The pointless squandering of life and the nonsensical cutting short of life are tragedies to be mourned. Yet the gift of life is not an absolute good (or, to put this another way: there are things worse than death). And so I do think that there is a form of raging against "the dying of the light" that fails to recognise our creaturely status as recipients of a gift. The unqualified refusal to ever depart in peace can also signify a lack of trust in the God who can raise the dead. In Christ all things are ours and so we need not grasp after what is not ours to secure. Death is a defeated enemy and can be "accepted" in hope of its finally being swallowed in life.

At the same time, it is important to resist the calculative rationality that tends to assign a financial cost to everything and desires to judge all actions on the basis of this figure as though merely demonstrating the more economic option resolved all moral dilemmas. Living and dying are far more than simply lines in an account book.


Justin said...

Interesting how the money itself is a symbol of something: either of the great desire we humans have to preserve life (because we value it) or of the great desire we humans have to cling to life (because we worship being alive, and fear losing what we worship.)

Chrissy said...

The cost of dying is climbing, so we need to stick together and Die smart! To die smart, means to better familiarize with the costs and any questions you might have. Easy to read information.
I just finished reading a book called just that... Die $mart by Kathy Lane.
DieSmart the book, really opened my eyes to problem of managing and protecting my assets if I die. I always thought my will would be sufficient. Was I wrong!
For those of you who think your Will, will be sufficient enough... you need to check this book out now!