The “They Just Won’t Die Tax”

And now, another one from the annals of the absurd.

This time it comes from British Columbia and involves a fee currently imposed on dying people who accidentally live too long.  Philip Wolf of The Daily News reports in his article Just Die When It’s Convenient that The Vancouver Island Health Authority demands their terminally ill decline and die on schedule like they’re supposed to.  Failure to do so will result in a penalty.  Thirty dollars a day for the bed, to be exact.

It just doesn’t get much more ridiculous than this.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand where they’re coming from.  The hour of death is highly unpredictable, and its inability to conform to a calendar can shred the schedules and finances of everyone involved, not just agencies.  On top of that, some people who are dying while out on their own, improve dramatically once they’ve entered the hospice system and start receiving good palliative care.  And, while on the one hand that can be an undeniable and profound gift, on the other hand it definitely throws a wrench into the financial administration of their cases.  I certainly don’t envy those responsible for filling the shortfall.  Everybody hates the fact that money has any influence over something as sacred as dying, and I sure wouldn’t want to be the one to remind them.

This of course ties into the larger problem of unaffordable health care costs, for which I don’t have any answers.  And I’m certainly not going to try and propose a solution to the VIHA’s problem because, frankly, this level of absurdity may not have one.  It has coyote written all over it.

I suspect the VIHA’s dilemma and decision is just the natural outcome of trying to partner bureaucracy and mystery for the dance.  Of course bureaucracy will insist on leading and naturally Mystery will tease and refuse to follow.  How could this kind of pairing not get ridiculous?  Remember the brilliant parody that Monty Python did on this very subject?  I found it in a Youtube video. (At least the VIHA didn’t go with this solution.)  Here’s Bring Out Your Dead: 

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

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2 responses

    • I know!! I was very suspicious when I first read it, too. I nosed around in The Daily Mail for a while just to make sure they weren’t a Canadian version of The Onion. Then I found another article on it during a search. Evidently, the practice has been going on for years and there is only now starting to be a serious protest. Canadians are just so damn nice.

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