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Why Pay for the Care of the Careless

09/18/2010

A letter has been going around facebook about a doctor who wrote an open letter in the Clarion Ledger in August 2010 which was confirmed by Snopes. I’ve read several versions, but are essentially the same in meaning.

Dear Mr. President:

During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.

And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture” – a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”.

Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.

Respectfully,
Roger Starner Jones, MD

I’m sure plenty will try to call the doctor racist or prejudiced, because they (whether correctly or incorrectly) infer that the patient was black.  He, however, is writing about the lack of emphasis on personal responsibility because someone else will pick up your slack, be it in healthcare, or general poverty.

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