Friday, December 27, 2013

Will Capitalism Pervert Everything?

The Washington Post has a good article on profit-making in the hospice industry.  Apparently profits are good, largely at the expense of the public. 

My only experience with hospice was during my friend Mel's last days last June.  I was most impressed with the care provided for Mel and assistance to his family.  All in all, very good.  The hospice worker(s?) was a volunteer but was part of an organization (a friend also volunteered there) that scheduled visits, provided medical equipment and probably other services.   If I thought about the larger organization, I assumed it was non-profit.  This morning, following the link from the provider located at the address where I returned a stray part from the oxygen system, I found the home page of the LHC Group.  It does not look particularly non-profit. 

Profit status notwithstanding, the hospice care I witnessed during Mel's passing was everything I could wish for myself or anyone.  I wasn't in on all the details of the family's experience with the hospice but I have no complaint about anything I saw.  I also recognize that those services come at a cost.  Money will be involved. 

So it should not come as a surprise to learn that hospice care is big business.  More surprising, though,  to find that Mel is among the least welcome patients.  He died within a week; short durations are not at all profitable.  Reading the Post article, I find that idea of hospice care has  been turned on its head to create profits for investors at public expense.  The "recruiting" practices of the various companies bothered me.  I would think that the need for hospice care would be initiated by the individual or family, not in response to a sales pitch.  But that's all part of the for-profit business plan:  expand, grow and produce profits.

Maybe this system works--Mel was well-cared for--but I'm skeptical.  Our profit-driven health care system produces poor results at high cost so extending that model further is not wise.  In the short term, think of the additional care that could be purchased with what Medicare now pays for corporate profit.


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Anonymous wondering said...

Not to mention - all the profit that is being made off of the backs of the volunteers doing the front line work.

It's one thing to volunteer because you're doing the right thing: helping to ease the passing of the terminally ill and the grief of their family and friends.

It's another thing altogether that one's altruism and willingness to help people in need is being exploited to make some investors rich.

10:09 AM  

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