We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A Christian urologist responds to an entitlement-minded guy who complains about the fee for an elective surgical procedure - a vasectomy reversal. Price, Value and Grace, at The Doctor is In. Wow. A sample:
I greatly appreciate your note, and understand well your frustration at the high cost of reversal surgery. To you these fees seem unreasonably high, an insurmountable barrier to the deepest need and desire of your heart.
By any objective standard, my fees for this procedure are reasonable. My current expertise in this area has been acquired through a long and arduous education and training experience, augmented by nearly 30 years of experience in performing this microsurgical procedure, which is extremely demanding — perhaps one of the most difficult procedures in all of surgery, regardless of specialty. There are perhaps no more than a few dozen surgeons in the world who bring this kind of experience to the restoration of fertility after vasectomy — yet many surgeons with far less experience, using cruder and often unsuccessful surgical techniques, are charging as much or more than this for the procedure. Top specialists in this field — which you know if you have researched these costs — not uncommonly charge two, three, sometimes four or more times as much as the fees I have quoted. Do I believe that many of these charge far too much? Most definitely — but most have earned that right through rigorous training, long hours, and hard work. They most certainly have the right to charge what they will — as you have the right to have this procedure, or not.
So I make no apologies for my fees. You say I do not live in your world, which is most certainly true; you also do not live in mine. Could you sustain the $40,000 a month which it costs to keep the doors of my small, efficient, one-doctor practice open? Do you believe these fees go merely to line my pockets, to keep me in Porsches and luxury yachts? Believe what you will, of course — but as the apostle Paul says in 1st Timothy (5:18), “The laborer deserves his wages.” The God who judges you also judges me — and before Him I am confident that these fees are just and not extortionary.
How many people do you know who complain about the price of medical care, but not about the price of a new car, or a new large-screen TV, or a new boat, or their estate-planning lawyer? Read the whole piece.
Although I agreed with the physician quoted, the example he gave was so specialized that it does not really illumine the bigger issue which is that quality medical care is out of reach for many Americans, and not simply because they would rather buy a power boat than restore their fertility.
It seems to me that choosing extraordinary measures to make it possible to parent one's own biological children (especially after having voluntarily previously chosen to have a vasectomy) should cost a person a lot of money. It's not a right or essential to life, although it may do a lot for the guy's wife's future happiness. I could be ruthless and say that she shouldn't have married a man who knew he was sterile if she wanted to have her own babies. Still, the world is full of homeless children and they could always adopt, and use the money he saves for the kid's future college tuition. At some point I wanted to say "You made your bed, now lie in it without whining..."
But what about people with chronic medical conditions that they were born with, that their genes (not stupid choices) condemn them to. Physical or mental. They may need skilled medical care for most of their lives if they are not to become invalids or die. If they are to be able to work, support themselves, contribute to their comunities, educate their kids. Their doctors also need to earn a living. The problem is that, with many conditions, even if you have a work ethic and continue to work and support yourself and your family, even if you do everything humanly possible to keep yourself healthy, even if you are one of the rare blessed ones with a generous health insurance plan, the ongoing medical copays may swallow up your earnings.
It isn't always a choice between a giant TV and paying the deserving doctor. In my family it often comes down to paying for a kid's medical care first, and the parent seeing a doctor or dentist if there is any money left after that.