Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Should We Deny Healthcare to Certain People?

Should We Deny Healthcare to Certain People?
Should we deny healthcare to certain people because of the choices they make or as a result of their risky behaviours? And if so, at what age should those exemptions begin to take place? 6 years? 26 years? 56 years? Where is society prepared to draw the line? And how often does that line move to include even more to be denied?

Recently, a social networking user posted a picture of two extremely obese women. One was drinking soda pop directly from a 2-liter container. One was opening up a bottle of dressing in front of an extra large pizza on the table before them.

The user and his followers were almost militant about us (whoever "us" are) not having to pay for healthcare for the women in the picture. He felt strongly that people should be tested every couple of years from the age of 6, and if they're eating and drinking "crap" as he called it, there should be no health insurance. That they should have to pay for it themselves. Others chimed in: No healthcare if you take drugs. Or drink alcohol. Or smoke.

And therein lies the slippery slope.

It is a very dangerous practice to pick and choose who does and doesn't get access to healthcare based on any set of limitations or discrimination. Even when the decision is based on a person's risky behaviour and the unhealthy choices they make.

There are so many questions that need to be answered within such a system that may seem sound on the surface, but can quickly devolve to a place that most of us don't want to go.

Who makes the decision? What behaviours cancel your healthcare? What over indulgence writes you off as a candidate to get medical attention, unless you pay for it yourself? What might the deniable include?

  • The middle-aged man who doesn't exercise and suffers a heart attack?
  • The 20-something-year-old who eats at fast food restaurants 3 or more times a week?
  • The man or woman who sits for more than 10 or 11 hours a day, some for a job, some not?
  • The 65-year-old male who eats red meat and it results in clogged arteries?

The list can get endless. So how far do we want to carry it?

  • The young teen who drives his car too fast and causes an accident and injures himself?
  • The woman who chooses breast implants that result in breast cancer?
  • The 8-year-old who plays with matches that result in 2nd or 3rd degree burns?
  • The college student who eats a steady diet of ramen noodles even though that's all he can afford?

Where do we draw the line?

And if anyone for one second thinks it's ridiculous to go that far, just check out the way of the world. Check out how Supreme Court decisions result in more and more of what we used to consider so far-fetched as to be out of the realm of possibility. Rights that were long ago fought for and won, only to be on the brink of again being lost.

And what of addiction?

When we make addiction--any form of addiction--a reason to deny health coverage, we ignore that the causes, be it drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, any substance or behaviour at all, are all based in some form of emotional pain. Does not that pain deserve to be treated? Do we give up on someone because the pain they feel is hidden inside their emotions rather than inside their bodies?

And let us not forget the stupidity factor.

The moment we consider stupidity as a reason to deny someone health insurance, that puts us all at risk for being denied. After all, who among us hasn't made a choice at some point in our lives where we can now ask, What was I thinking?

So before we start talking about banning people from getting health insurance coverage, we should first check out our own risky behaviours and unhealthy choices. Behaviours and choices that could eventually lead to a host of health issues. Some earlier on in our lives. Some much further into the future.

And let us not forget that in order for such a system to work, we must have a central agency to collect the information. And that information must be accessible to some governing branch that determines whether or not you qualify as a candidate for heath coverage.

If we go this route, then ultimately no one would qualify. There would always be reasons to deny someone coverage. After all, insurance companies are not in the business of paying out, much as we like to think they are. They're actually in the business of making money. And what better way to profit than to take premiums from people, and then find reasons not to cover those very people when they need it most. This is one slippery slope I'm not willing to go down. Are you?


  1. People born with some disability, should they be denied health care simply because they were born? After all we are all born with a terminal disease called LIFE, so we are all going to die at some time so no health care? This is just a dumb idea.

  2. AS sad as it makes me Darlene, you are so right. It frustrates the daylights out of me to see people who are north of Morbidly Obese driving around in scooters and using handicap stickers strictly because they are too fat to walk when I Cannot walk yet cannot get that stickerbecasue I don't "strictly" fall into the handicapped rule. But if we start denying "certain" people then where WILL it end? It is hard enough now a days with our Canadian Health Care system being so badly mismanaged and our Insurance companies looking for ANY excuse to deny claims and that includes our workers safety and our car insurance without people jumping on the bandwagon of trying to deny target groups just because they disagree with the way someone lives. Do you know their back-story? Do you know what helped them on their journey to where they are? What if we chose to limit your healthcare because someone said you were a bigot/racist/abuser? Think on before you become a victim of your own prejudice.

  3. I'll take the discussion to another level. We are the only animal on earth that does not cull its weak or allow it's weak to be picked off by predators. We invest fortunes in protecting our weak. This is viewed to be a shared cost of intelligent life or humanity. Should it be? Should we by governance kill of the weak at birth and as and when they become none contributors? Develop a heart disease and you are shuffled off to a Solent Green factory (now I'm showing my age.). The earth now has 7.5 billion occupants, up over 5 billion is just the last 100 years. When do we start culling and who will we cull? Food for thought!

  4. @anonymous March 2, 2015 9:53 PM
    And your reason for bothering to comment here is what, exactly? You're contributing here just to add to people's suffering?

    Humans are different than most species on earth. We are pack animals, as opposed to herd animals. Herd animals sacrifice the weakest so the herd will survive. Pack animals protect the group. The packs who don't, don't survive.

    Since human social groups need cooperation to survive, some cultures would drive out any overly aggressive members who couldn't, or wouldn't, live peaceably with other members. Which should give you pause.

    I'm sorry for whatever happened in your life that would compel you to go onto a victims' website and promulgate hatred. And I'm sorry you never received the support and love in your life that would lead you to make such statements in a place such as this.

  5. this is so sad that the family support their so irrespective of his crime. They have no respect for the law and the little girls.

  6. Ethical complexities of denying healthcare based on individuals' choices and behaviors, cautioning against the dangers of such practices and highlighting the potential slippery slope of discrimination and denial of coverage. It emphasizes the need for empathy, understanding, and the recognition of underlying emotional factors in addiction, as well as the inherent risks in categorizing behaviors as grounds for denial.


Please be respectful. No profanity or hurtful remarks to others.