Is it ethical to contract for a service you know in advance you'll be unable to pay for simply because you really need it?
It may seem like a simple question with an easy answer, but it's not.
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Suppose you need surgery? You have insurance which will pay for much of it, but you are not in a position to pay the copay?
Actually, my question is a kind of sneaky critique of the US healthcare system.
When we have a technology whose purpose is to save lives, how can we ethically let that become a business? And can we apply the same standards we'd apply to another business?
For example, if I go to buy a car knowing somehow that I'll never be able to finish paying it off, that's clearly unethical, but can we apply the same standard to the business of saving lives?
A few months ago, I had a breathing difficulty that resulted in two ER visits and numerous tests and consultations. The resulting bills amounted to about $15K, much of which Medicare paid. But that left me with several thousand dollars I was supposed to be responsible for. But on a fixed income, there is no chance I'll ever get those bills paid off. Even if I could afford to start paying them back, at my age there will always be another problem coming along.
For example, I need to cataract surgery. I'm going blind in one of my eyes. So, I've set up the surgery which will be done in 3 or 4 weeks and will probably cost even more than the breathing difficulty. I do so knowing that I won't be able to pay my share.
Luckily, the health industry is used to this situation. They bill for a while and then give up. So, who pays? To some extent, it's everyone else who can. The burden simply shifts to those who can pay, and their healthcare costs go up.
Can you see now how insane and dysfunctional the system is? On the one hand, I feel bad that I can't pay my share, but what is my option? to go blind?
That changes everything!
I think the point of Unseen's post is to make us question that. Does it really change things? If you cheat the system to get life saving surgery, should you also cheat the system to get basic necessities like food, water, housing? To what extent does this ethical loophole apply?
Unseen was right, his question is far deeper than it appears on the surface.