Can you place a value on life?

*** Thought it was cool that the homie wanted to do a post on the recent issues surrounding mammograms for women. So I bring it to you from @jarrydajackson and his insights into the situation. Read, comment, follow him.***


What is the value of a life? I ask this question not in a traditional sense having to do mainly with philosophy; But in the practical sense having to do mainly with money.

This post comes on the heels of The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation that most women should not began mammograms until age 50, and at that time only once every two years.

This is very different from the previous recommendations pushing for yearly screenings starting at age 40. The panel cited many reasons for this decision. These reasons span from recent studies to the protecting women from the emotional strains of getting a false-positive reading. Although these all are reasonable, I guess, I believe the main reason for this recommendation comes down to one word: money.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself and forget to tell you a little about me. I am a 26 year old male, graduated from an HBCU in ‘07, and currently work as a pharmacist. I’m just a couple years out of school and I have little experience in oncology but I can tell you as well as any person off the street that there are a lot of women who develop breast cancer in their 40s, especially minorities.

The angle is that early screening definitely saves lives, they’re not arguing that. But earlier screening also cost boat loads of money only to find cancer and save the lives of a small % of patients screened.  What these new recommendations intend to do is to stop “wasting” money on women who would get screened and really have no cancer. And as for the women who would benefit from this and whose lives could possibly be saved, they consider their lives lost as just a cost of doing business.

I personally as a pharmacist and as a citizen believe this whole thing is a crock of ****. I would love to say that they should take the money that they are wasting on all those meaningless government programs and put it into healthcare but I’m sure we all could find something to take government funds away from to put into something more of our liking. What I think is more problematic is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think, as we move toward government regulated health care we will see more and more recommendations that are in the best interest of the country financially (which is good because we’re in a recession) but worse for the individual patient. Patients whose ailments are not cost effective will either have to come out of pocket or be left out in the cold.

We all have different views on the value of life based on all sorts of parameters and experiences. I think certain instances, like war, the value of life should be viewed as what’s best for the whole. But in healthcare this value should be assessed on an individual, case-by-case base.

How do you assess the value of a life in dollars and cents? Is it even possible? Do you think we should work to ensure the greatest quality of life and save the most lives regardless of the cost? Do you think that we should put a cap on our financial contributions to achieve these goals? Or maybe a little of both, reply and let me know what you think?


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