Many Belgians not willing to prolong the lives of over-85s

Several people may feel it terrible when a loved one dies before he or she became 60. Strangely enough for the marketplace lots of people above 55 are written off. In our so called Catholic country a lot of people do find it not necessary to give more heathy years to somebody who reached the age of 80

According to reports in the Belgian media of a survey of attitudes towards health care we got some staggering news.

According to several studies, conducted at the Federal Center of Expertise in Health Care (KCE), the King Baudouin Foundation and the heart of Inami (in a secret report), 40% of Belgians (and more Flemings than Walloons) are seriously considering keeping the balance of the Social Security system

“by no longer administering costly treatments that prolong the lives of the over 85s”.

One guesses the continuation: one would have quickly a two-speed medicine, between the patients who must be satisfied with the “Secu” or “social security system” and those who have the means to buy the unreimbursed drugs or the operations to which they would not have any more access.

In the Netherlands, which is also a so called Christian country, there is no longer a pacemaker for over 75 years … the device far exceeds the patient in expectation of operation.
By comparison, only 17% are in favour of no longer reimbursing the costs of illness or accident that are the consequence of personal behaviour (tobacco, obesity), a solution against which 46% of Belgians are against. Much more than the 35% who oppose that vital care is stopped for the older ones.

Moreover, the solidarity of the group is highly dependent on the perspectives of the patient. Thus, if 69% of Belgians consider it legitimate to spend 50,000 euros for a vital treatment, they are only 28% to maintain this opinion if the patient is over 85 years old. If it is a cardiac device, the two groups balance (50% -40%). And if the person is in a coma and the treatment brings only one year of life, three Belgians out of ten agree, except for those over 85 years, half of Belgians saying that

“this should never to be possible, whatever the age “.

Dutch speakers are much more likely to exclude people over 85 from more expensive care.

“These percentages in favour of exclusion are shocking,”

notes Professor Mark Elchardus, who led the investigation for Inami, the Institut national d’assurance maladie-invalidité.

The obvious consequence of this, notes Le Soir newspaper, would be a two-tier health system. Poorer patients would have to make do with government medicine; wealthier patients would be able to cover the cost of operations and medicines.

I can understand people being against paying for treatment of illnesses that are the consequence of personal behaviour such as smoking or obesity. Enough incentives are given in the media to stop smoking and to take care of what and how a person should or should not eat. Most often they are themselves the cause of their illness and as such should pay themselves for treatment, after they did not enough effort to stop smoking or eating to much bad food, and after they got the first basic help for free. All healthy people should help them to get on the right way, but if the are ardent and continue their bad way of life, we should not keep investing in them.

For the elderly and those who become so ill at a certain age that they can not be productive any more it is a totally different matter.

Clearly ageism is at work but we also come to see that more and more people are seen as costing objects that can be better reduced or done away with when they start not being productive or not bringing in any money for society.

For many Belgians it seems already to expensive to keep elderly people alive in rest and care homes. When we know that only 28% agree if a patient is over 85 years old that we should not spend any more money on that person, we can imagine not being far away from having those people receiving an injection to get them from this world.

Either the churches shall have to do more work for getting their flock to come to see the value of each human being, or those interested in the environment should have to open the eyes of the young people, showing them we have to nurture not only plants and animals but should appreciate and respect human life as well, also taking care of those who have given many years of their life to the society (having worked and done their share for the community). Not making them redundant and not to get away with them as soon as they have become “too old”.

Let us all work at it, that the materialist people come to recognise the value of each living being, animal, plant and each human being whatever age he or she might have.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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