Health is a problem that concerns everyone in the population. Weather it is the ethical aspects regarding IVF treatment or medical engineering, or the fact that health care costs are on the rise and the number of doctors are decreasing. The first set of documentaries viewed concerning healthcare ethics, brought up points for and against the practices in regards to the medical community, the people involved, and the religious aspects of it all. The news documentary viewed brought up many aspects on why healthcare costs are rising, and what is going on now in our state and federal legislature as well as in our own hospitals to change this problem.
Medical ethics in the past 50 years have been forever changed. With the birth of Louise Brown in 1978 a new era of medical science was born. In the documentary Engineering: Medical Ethics, we were reminded of the birth of dolly the sheep. This documentary brought up both sides of the argument for and against the use of medical engineering. With the argument that medical enginnering is akin to the experimentation on humans done to the Nazis, this documentary, explains how medical engineering can knock out hereditary human disease, for example tay sachs that can cause a horrific death in a child under the age of 5. However, many people, especially in the religious community think that by doing this we are playing god.
IVF is the process where a human egg is fertilized by a sperm outside the body, then put back into the womb, increasing the chance a woman can have a child, or in some cases the only way a woman can have a child. The use of medical engineering and IVF treatment are comparable, because theoretically when the embryo is outside the womb we could test for various diseases, and ultimately the parents decide if to keep it or not. What was far more interesting was the differences concerning IVF depending on religion. Judaism allows couples that are unable to conceive to receive IVF treatment, in fact if they do not receive care it would be more of a problem. In fact Israel has the most number of IVF treatment centers, probably reflecting this. However in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt the practice is banned out right. Considering that many think that having a child is a woman’s right, what I thought was fascinating was the differences in cost concerning IVF treatment around the world. In some cases, for example the UK, the NIH will cover it, but in other countries it is not covered under government insurance policies.
Both documentaries, IVF: Medical Ethics and Engineering: Medical Ethics, brought up good points for and against these practices, with neither point coming out on top. Ultimately it should be up to the patient and the doctor to decide if these procedures are right for them.
The documentary by News Hour Medical Ethics and Issues Anthology, Jim Lehrer brings up the topic of health insurance and the rising cost of health care. We are introduced to the fact, that in the United States Medicare and Medicaid are a huge burden in regards to cost per person, and with the population getting older, costs will only rise. However an interesting fact that is brought up is the fact that while healthcare costs are going up, the system in itself is creating jobs. As taxpayers we want to keep costs low, but what we do like is that the healthcare system is creating jobs; one study explained in the video claims that by 2016 20% of GDP will come from healthcare. Can Medicare and Medicaid keep up with the costs, especially with the increase in the numbers of uninsured? The increase of uninsured, 1.3 million between 1999-2006 was mainly due to employer based coverage and with insurance costs averaging at about over $11,000/ year, nearly a quarter of the median salary of a middle class family, many cannot afford private insurance.
The episodes of this news documentary bring up the problems concerning the financial burdens that are associated with health care. Besides the increase in cost and the rising numbers in uninsured, other problems arise. For example, the increase in the age of the population also means health care costs will rise because of the increase of costs associated with caring for them. And while the numbers of people that need care are increasing, the actual amount of “home bread” doctors is not. This leads to the increase of the number of foreign doctors. While this does not seem like a major problem the episode brings up a good point that cultural norms in the United States are very different from those in other countries, and there are foreign doctors that have problems acclimating, but without them, the system would collapse.
Overall while this documentary brought up good points regarding all the “problems” that lead to a rising cost in healthcare, what I do think was missing, was the fact that training a doctor is rising as well. Besides fours years of an undergraduate degree in the US, medical school is an additional 4 years, bringing the total cost of an education over $200,000, and for an adult just starting a career in medicine, that is an insurmountable amount of debt. We need to enact a better system, which will let all people benefit from healthcare.