According to the Center for Disease Control there is a rise in the aging American population. Most of the rise will be visible between 2010 and 2030. In the United States alone the growing population of 65 and older had a projected increase from 12.4% in 2020 to 19.6% in 2030. This is primarily due to the baby boomers. Another addition to this transition is that life expectancy has increase by 10 years.
This increase certainly place high demands from the healthcare system and social services. Many illness and diseases that are an expectancy with age will also put a huge financial and resource burden on the healthcare system. Disabilities, quality of life, long and short-term care will most definitely contribute to the overall costs. This is an implication for greater healthcare out reach and public health awareness.
The increase in the aging population increase healthcare cost not only in the United States but also in many well-developed countries such as Canada. The cost for such services is 3 to 5 times greater than those 65 years and older in underdeveloped countries. Of course, the total spending had many factors. The aging population has become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. The non- Hispanic population will drop by 24% percent overall.
There are many health challenges facing the aging population. Challenges such as obesity, diabetes, economic disparities, divorces, Alzheimer’s disease, the need for nursing home care, social security and Medicare expenditures. As the demographics and many health condition changes this poses a major challenge for the healthcare system. Meeting the needs of such an increasing aging diverse population will most definitely be challenging for providers as well as organizations.
This is where the ethical dilemma of the allocation of scares medical resources arises from. The allocation of resources becomes a problem when resources are limited, and the demand far exceed the supply. There are always limited resources because not everyone can be a healthcare provider, nor can they provide non-stop care.
Allocation of scares medical resources determine how to treat people fairly and equally. Fairly and equally in the healthcare setting is different from any other organization. It is not like how some one shares a pie equally at the dinner table. It’s more like giving everyone the opportunity to taste the pie. It’s more like an equal opportunity rather than a piece of something. The ethical consideration of healthcare allocation is not new as the system is constantly evolving and so is the population.
The potential role in healthcare allocation amongst the growing aging population is certainly crucial. Good health is not a guarantee nor is it an absolute condition. It is based on age, genetics, environment, and many other factors. The aging American population is highly affected by the growing need for scares resources. Healthcare allocation is determined by society at large. The public have a huge influence on policymakers which aides in the determination of allocations.
The Federal and state government plays a significant role in the allocation process as well. An example of this would be the Medicare and Medicaid program. There is a qualifying process which determines who gets what and how often they get it. Hospitals also make healthcare allocation decision often. The hospital as an entity determines the type of resources and the quantity that is available to the patients. This also forces providers to make allocation decisions as well. They must decide with whom they share their resources with. Even though there are limits to healthcare especially for the elderly the government have a social duty to aid people to live out their life span.
The growing aging population is more susceptible to illnesses and disabilities in opposing to any other groups of people. Because of these factors they should have access to healthcare. Elderly discrimination has serious adverse effects. This population should not be denied resources simply because of their age, however, age should be a factor as to the outcome. It is morally inappropriate and unacceptable to share beneficial healthcare. Healthcare and medical treatment ethically should not be denied based upon the population age. Any such denial could mean life or death for that person. The patient’s condition should be the determining factor for resource allocation not the patients age.
The complete life system was designed with the intention of allocation of scares medical resources equally and fairly to all people. This system is combined of five principles. Those principles are youngest first, prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and finally instrumental value.
The first principle youngest first gives priority to adolescents because they have not had the chance to live a full life. Under normal circumstances they would be able to do so without aid. On the other hand, adolescents get priority over infants because they have vested investments such as parental skills and education. This would be considered a waste if the adolescents were not given the opportunity to live a full productive life.
Prognoses aim is to also achieve complete life as well. A younger person with very poor prognoses will lack the ability to live a complete life. Thus, the lack of prognoses and a younger person would not be a great option. If scares resources were to be given to this patient it would be a lost cause because the prognoses are not beneficial to the patient nor society. In this situation most likely the patient will also not live a compete life but a short one.
Another inclusion to this system is saving the most lives. Saving the more lives is better and far acceptable by society rather than just saving one life. In this situation more, people will have the opportunity to live a complete life in opposing to a few or just one. Lottery and instrumental value is also significant. Lottery and instrumental value allow everyone to have an opportunity despite age or prognoses. These two ensures that all lives are equally relevant. With all this prospective option it appears the complete life system is a moral and ethically complete system.
Based upon the complete life system Steve McDonald would be the best candidate to receive the surgery. Steve is in his prime age of 40 years old. Even though he left college at an early age to persuade a musical career does not mean he is not a productive member of society and should not have the opportunity of living a complete life. While his career maybe a little unstable he still has the potential of being a productive member of society.
According to the complete life system Steve is considered to be the youngest of the three candidates. The other individuals Donna Mueller who is 58 years old and Chris Snider who is 73 years old have already lived a complete life. Donna is already a disabled homemaker so even if was granted the surgery the out come would not be beneficial. There would be no benefits to Donna receiving the surgery because she does work, have children to care for, and more importantly she is disabled and soon enough she will not be able to live without assistance.
If Chris was granted the surgery and it was a success the out come may still not be beneficial because he may not have many more years of life ahead. With a successful surgery and recovery Chris may return to running his company and keeping up with his social activities, however, time is of essence here. Even with the increase life expectancy Chris is at a disadvantage because he has already lived a complete life.
Steve being the youngest amongst the three of them gives him a better success and recovery advantage. With the principle of youngest first provides that he has many years ahead and should be given the opportunity to live a complete life.
Based on healthcare law of discrimination it is not considered to be age discrimination to treat a population differently because of their age. Even though the priority age is 15-40 according to the complete life system. Age is constantly changing, and everyone will or have being at a particular age at one time or another. Allocation by age is not the same as allocation by sex or race because those factors does not change and are not equally experienced by everyone.
Along with moral and ethical relevancies it is also necessary for the system to have legitimacy as well. This requires the allocation system to be accessible, fair, and just. Fairness is a necessity for legitimacy, but it is not able to produce the necessary allocation alone. Morals and principles are indispensable for just allocation. The system should allow the public to access and fully understand its allocation system.
The preferred allocation principle would be youngest first. The youngest first provide benefits to society as a whole. The aging population have lived a complete life. They have worked, raised families, and generally were active within their communities. The youngest primary between the age of 15-40 years have much investments that will be sufficient to have a complete life independently.
In conclusion, the aging population is on a rise in the United States. This significant rise is primarily because of the baby boomers. Allocation principle plays a great role in todays healthcare system. The healthcare system is facing many tough challenges as to how and where to allocate scares medical resources. Bases upon moral and ethical standards the system uses principles to allocate resources. Such principles are a complete life system which consist of the youngest first, prognoses, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value. These principles are there to provide fairness and justice.