Thu 22

Who Deserves Better Healthcare

What Max Reckons

Do you think young people should get better care or be prioritized in hospitals? For example, let’s say there is a 20 year old and a 75 year old who both have COVID and are in need of a ventilator. But there is only one left. Who would you give it to?

Abrum Alexander

Great question. The easy answer, of course, is to give it to the 20-year-old, since s/he has more years of productive life left, which can be extracted and sacrificed to our corporate overlords. But consider this: Perhaps the 75-year-old is a CEO, or sits on the board of a major company. In that case, he or she is probably capable of stoking capitalism’s engine room with hundreds or even thousands of lives.

So it’s not as simple as it appears. I also have to consider whether the 20-year-old might notice I’m carrying a ventilator and physically wrestle it from me before I can apply its life-giving grace to the shriveled husk of the 75-year-old Chevron board member who’s spent his/her life trading away the planet’s climate for profit. I mean, it’s unlikely, since this 20-year-old needs a ventilator. I can probably fight off someone who can’t breathe properly. But it would be truly humiliating if I failed, and had the ventilator ripped from my hands, under the watery, yellowing eyes of a corporate titan.

Of course, these are the kinds of tough decisions our brave front-line medical workers have to make all the time. Let me tell you, I don’t envy the doctor who has to decide whether a sick patient has enough economic potential to justify the patent-inflated cost of a life-saving medicine. That must be hell. But I suppose you don’t get into that field unless you’re willing to look a patient in the eye and judge their net worth.

Bottom-line, I just hope that one day we have technology to free us from this kind of heart-wrenching dilemma. I imagine a future in which patients can submit their economic potential statements over the internet, thereby saving them an expensive and time-consuming trip to a hospital in the event that the algorithm calculates they represent a negative cost-benefit healthcare scenario. I know what you’re thinking: “But Max, the time and financial hit to economically unproductive citizens is of no consequence. If anything, it’s mildly stimulating to the transport sector.” Still, I like to hope that one day things might be different. Not soon, obviously. Not if it will cost us anything. But let’s keep hoping.


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Matthew (#6407)

Location: Perth
Posted: 1178 days ago

My psychiatrist once chuckled in response to a question and gestured at a large bookshelf full of medical books. "Half of those books are on the ethics of health resource allocation".

Abrum Alexander (#8221)

Location: Vermont, USA
Posted: 1178 days ago

You know, this is where AI might be useful (if it's not busy destroying humanity and all).

AI has the ability to make decisions that are logical and, if we program it, ethical. This means humans don't have to make these life or death decisions, but rather a computer can do it for us. But, we also have to consider that if we give AI the authority to kill people and practically take over our hospitals, then perhaps it will use it to it's advantage. Maybe this is where AI will start taking over the human race.

Brenda (#7217)

Location: Berowra Bushland
Quote: "entering your world via the book portal is awesome"
Posted: 1178 days ago

I can imagine a future..... no one is permitted to go to a hospital before submitting an online application.
The benefits are 3 fold;
Are there sufficient resources to treat the proposed patient?
If not they are entered into a random lottery program = Yes/No
Takes the onus off triage and front line staff to make the decision.
Access through permission will reduce the danger to hospital staff of the crazies that threaten or attack if not treated.
Online applications would enable data tracking of attempts to utilise medical resources.
The chronic hypochondriac will be restricted before approaching medical staff - see reason 2.

All of the above are also open to abuse from hackers, politicians, wealthy donors, celebrities but hey it is a start.

Will St George (#8217)

Location: U.S.
Quote: "It's like deja vu all over again. - Yogi Berra"
Posted: 1177 days ago

Great examples Max! I think there are other dynamics to be exemplified.
Suppose the 20-year old is a new "dot com" billionaire who just killed off the competition. The 75-year old is a decorated veteran who spent his/her subsequent years working for organizations like Unicef and Doctors Without Borders. Clearly, this is a layup. One doesn't need an abacus to calculate who is of more benefit to society.
But what about the personal dimension?
Suppose the 20-year old is Thomasin McKenzie and the 75-year old is Dolly Parton. How about Ryan Sessegnon versus Steve Martin? And a more difficult one, Angourie Rice versus Katherine Kessey.
Why bother with these hypothetical situations? It is very simple. The technology to calculate the worth of every human being on the planet already exists, if only we'd cooperate with the corporations with the know-how. We just need to require everyone to use a smartphone for every aspect of their lives and 24/7.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 1176 days ago

You're totally overlooking the option of turning the choice into a reality TV show.
"Who gets voted out of the hospital this week? You decide! SMS now!"

> AI has the ability to make decisions that are logical and, if we program it, ethical.

Well, I don't think I need to repeat my view on this, since we had a good discussion about it on the last topic :)

What might be an interesting perspective, is "Bureaucracy as AI". Which is to say, we already have this in a sense. There's rules and guidelines that people can follow to arrive at these kinds of decisions, like good little CPUs executing a program. And "we're just following the rules" can absolve them of any feeling of responsibility, almost just as well as if a computer made the choice.

Machine Man subscriber Yawnder (#1840)

Location: Brossard, Qc, Ca
Quote: "Smile, Tomorrow Will Be Worse... - Murphy"
Posted: 1164 days ago

Something else to consider is past and past deeds I think.
For example, the older person most likely have contributed to society for a while now, should all of that be ignored? If so, we're only a few steps away from euthanizing people as soon as they stop working right? They amassed wealth, but it should instead be redistributed to increase productivity right?
I know it's the slippery slope fallacy, and that A doesn't necessarily implies B.

This said, if you really wanted to mathematically decide, I think you'd have to first, establish what's the purpose of a human, and determine an "interest rate" representing the risk of that usefulness not being propagated by the individual.

For example, if you think the purpose of the human life is to create more humans, then since he can't realistically have kids anymore, unless the 75y old helps in some way to create children (for example, a priest pushing people to make kids) then his value is 0, while the younger person has a X% chance to make kids and you actualize the average number of kids, etc., etc, using the annuity formula and that's it's value.

If the purpose of humanity is to be happy, then you got to find guess how long the older will still be happy, how much happiness he can bring, etc., etc....

By the time you make a decision, they both will have passed, so you can sell the respirator on the black market!

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