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Let Me Upgrade You

Posted Jun 23 2009 12:00am
The controversy surrounding the recent news that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, recently received a liver transplant with the help of his wealth is a little unwarranted. As this article explains, Jobs allegedly used his considerable wealth to list himself on various organ waiting lists, therefore increasing his chances of getting a liver. The reason I can’t do something like this is that insurance will only cover a transplant at one center. Surprisingly, I and most other Americans can’t afford the 500k it costs to have a transplant and so we stick with one hospital. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, doesn’t need to worry about insurance paying for his care. He can afford to get a transplant at any center in the country, as he supposedly did in Tennessee. Although this is highly unethical, I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing.

First, paying out of pocket kind of screws over the insurance company. When Steve Jobs gives his money directly to the hospital it bypasses the insurance company conglomerate. Therefore, the hospital actually gets the money they ask for, not the outrageous prices the insurance company gives them. A nurse once told me that the reason the hospital makes you have so many tests (MRIs, bone density scans, X-rays) to get on the transplant waiting list, is that that’s the only way they make money. So finally with Steve Jobs, my doctor will get the 130 dollars he asks for and not the 59 dollars the insurance company agrees to pay him. I mean its good to see someone take on “the man” even if that that someone is technically “the man” himself.

Second, I couldn’t care less if the multiple listing approach is unethical. Worse than that, I think it’s unsafe. Part of being stuck at one hospital or city is that you get to know your doctors, your nurses, your surgeons, and your environment. Personally, after only a few months with the liver team at my hospital, I feel like they really care for me. They’ve seen me on good days, bad days, and all the ones in between. They know my family and my wife. I would love a liver a little quicker, but honestly I think their care is worth the wait. I can’t imagine that Steve Jobs feels the same way. He probably saw the doctors a few times in each city, met the head of the hospital, and then flew home to Silicon Valley. I’m sure Steve Jobs had the best doctors, surgeons and nurses money could buy. Still, I bet he didn’t get the best care and that’s not worth cheating the system for.

Finally, Steve Jobs and Apple are so cool right now, he could make a transplant in-style. Seriously, when celebrities get sick, they bring a lot of press to whatever disease they are fighting. Whether it be Michael J Fox and Parkinson’s or Christopher Reeve’s fight for stem cell research, celebrities can have a huge impact on any illness. Already news articles and blogs are posting about Steve Job’s transplant and fighting over this ethical dilemma. It creates a lot of buzz about the disease and finally people realize the agonizing wait the rest of us suffer through. I know it’s a private matter, but I hope Steve Jobs takes this opportunity to publicly speak about his disease and the ways everyone can help to combat it. At the same time, I can’t wait for the new Liver Upgrade App for my i-touch!
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