Recently, my mother-in-law was in a similar status as Terri Shiavo - feeding tube, but no artificial means. Thankfully, God called her home after about six months. She was a good woman, and as much as we miss her, it feels good to know she has started her journey home. Now, with all that is in the news lately, I’ve found myself explaining to many people the difference between robbing someone of food and water and simply letting them go when God calls, such as when their lungs are not working anymore (I personally compare removing the feeding tubes to - instead of shutting off a ventilator - actually putting a piece of plastic over her nose and mouth to keep her from oxygen). Anyway, one of the questions I know will come up sooner or later is this: Who pays? In the case of my mother-in-law, the insurance paid, BUT they were about to cut that off. My father-in-law was advised to see a lawyer to protect his estate. In my case, should my wife go into a similar state, we have so little money, I couldn’t afford the hospital bills anyway. If someone believes, as we do, that the feeding tube must remain (there is no medical reason to remove it), but insurance is cutting off and there isn’t some vast family fortune (I don’t know what the situation is with Terri’s parents), who pays? I’ll bet the hospitals aren’t obligated. Is there government assistance? Or will the tube eventually come out despite religious and ethically based wishes because the money is not rolling in. Someone help me with this so I can be prepared when I’m the one being asked. Thanks.
In most cases, the federal govt pays via medicare or the state government via medicaid. It will vary from state to state. Of course if the patient carries personal health insurance the hospital will bill this provider too. As always, refer to your insurance manuals, or hospitals that you deal with. And always side with life. God will provide!
If you are asking about the cost of tube feeding, the majority of the cost relates to the medical care such as placing the tube and monitoring the patient.
Insurances don’t usually cover the cost of the actual tube feeding formula for long, just as they don’t cover the cost of groceries. (Tube feeding formulas are somewhere between food and pharmacy.) While tube feeding formulas cost significantly more than the average groceries, they aren’t enormously expensive unless the patient has some rare metabolic disorder besides the inability to swallow.
If there is enough family or home care support, tube feedings are frequently done for people in their own homes, thus saving the cost of nursing home care. Once the person is stable, the tube feeding cost is not too expensive, relatively speaking in the area of medicine.
It can be argued that a well nourished patient costs less money compared to a poorly nourished person because they have fewer complication. But if the goal is to save money by cutting short a person’s life, well…that’s a whole different problem. If we as a society come to the point of cutting short people’s lives to save money, that philosophy may cost us our souls.
I think that it is fair to say that it is first and for most the Church who Christ would want to pay to assisst those who cannot pay. When Jesus says, “what so ever you do to for the least of my brothers that you do unto me” He was talking to His Church and not Caesar. Jesus is talking to Catholics when He says, **'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food". **The problem is that many Catholics choose to just let people die rather than pay a proper tithe to support the poor as Jesus commanded. I have heard it said that Catholics pay, on average, only about 1% of their income to God to support the poor when they should be paying closer to 10% to keep the poor from dying.
The Church firmly teaches, “No salvation outside the Church”. We know that the Church believes that only those inside the bosom of the Church will go to heaven through Jesus for feeding the poor.
Presently it seems easier for Church leaders to simply condemn the State for not doing the work the Lord commanded Catholics to do rather than get Catholics to love the least of Christ’s brothers with a proper tithe to the poor. Let us pray that our next Pope focuses on getting Catholics to do the will of God in support of the poor. Jesus did not promise eternal life to the state for feeding the poor. Jesus promised Catholics eternal life for feeding the poor. Jesus also told us He would burn Catholics in hell who do not feed the least of His brothers. Let us get Catholics to do the work Jesus commanded them to do.
NAB MAT 25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place on his righthand, the goats on on his left. The king will say to those on his right: 'Come. You have my Fathers blessing! In herit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me.’ then the usut will ask him: 'Lord, when did we see you hugry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness?" When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison?" The king will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you did it for on of my least brothers, you did it for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Peace in Christ,