Give organ donors free health care!

Robin Hanson quotes research which finds that blood donors aren't really put off by the prospect of being paid for their donation, they just don't want cash. Vouchers would work just fine, though.

Commenter Michael Keennan then comes up with this ingenious idea: instead of refusing to compensate organ donors at all due to ethical concerns, why not pay them back in kind? How about, for example, giving kidney donors free health insurance for the remainder of their lives? That would surely cause more people to consider donating their kidneys, which may save plenty lives; and I don't see how it raises any ethical dilemmas. Doesn't it seem fair and just for people who have donated an organ to receive free health care in return? Doesn't it seem more unjust if they do not?


Anonymous said…
You mean donors that give organs on their deathbed or those that give organs and plan to live on ?
Should we make a difference, and if so what would it be ?
denis bider said…
It seems to me that free health care is primarily useful for those who still have time to live. Perhaps those on a death bed could receive assistance with funeral expenses...
Anonymous said…
What about the people who decide early on in life to allow their organs to be taken out once they are about to die ? They still need health care to handle the body in the best possible way but haven't donated yet.
denis bider said…
Those people, if they end up donating, would effectively donate on their deathbed, so the same benefits seem reasonable - help with funeral expenses.

We can't offer free health care to just anyone who checks a box though, because then everyone will check that box and no one will be paying in the first place.
Anonymous said…
If they check the box we can have a rule like "if they don't take good care of their bodies then they have to pay for healthcare like everyone else ; if they do take good care then healthcare is free" and have a body of doctors check them out regularly. Then when they die their organs get donated.
denis bider said…
You couldn't offer free health care that way, because there would be too many people who would do that. At best, you could offer such people a discount.

There is additionally the problem of what "taking care of your body" means as far as future organ donation is concerned. There's only so much you can do, or avoid doing. Whether, and which of, your organs are usable probably depends much more on how you died than how you lived.

There is furthermore the question of whether we're going to need organ donation in 40 years, anyway. We may be able to grow most replacement organs using the patient's own tissue at that time.

Taking all this into consideration, the discount you could offer to young people who sign up to donate whenever they end up dying, would be a very low discount, indeed.

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