Dying Getting in the Way of Health Reform?

“Perfect health is the slowest way to die.”

Apparently many medical students learn this bromide early in their education. It simply points out that none of us are getting out of here – alive. It also points out that as good as our health care system may be technologically our view of dying exacerbates our health cost problem. If we keep you alive today by some expensive medical therapy – you will die tomorrow of something even more expensive to treat.

If we were really interested in controlling health care costs we would encourage smoking, overeating, and other risky behaviors.  Cost control works best if we actually reduce life expectancy.  This is the essence of the wellness myth.  Healthy people may be less costly today but are more expensive in the long run.  Good health in your youth only begets expensive to treat chronic disease in your old age.

This tongue-in-cheek approach is meant to sensationalize our view of dying.  We all want to live a long a productive life.  It nevertheless comes at a high cost.  This cost conundrum is exacerbated by our difficulty in accepting dying and that of our aged loved ones.  Go to any ICU in the country and observe patients in semi-comatose conditions, being kept alive at a cost of thousands of dollars a day simply because the family cannot come to an end-of-life decision.

Only a thorough discussion regarding rational decisions involving dying – our own and our loved ones – will allow us to understand how failure to do so condemns us to a high cost health system.


Speakers On Healthcare is proud to represent STAN HUPFELD, with nearly 40 years service as a CEO of American hospitals.  Invite Stan to speak at your next meeting.  Preview his Keynote Program: Is Dying Getting in the Way of Health Reform? Perfect Health is the Slowest Way to Die