Friday, February 7, 2014

Holograms and Health Care

With all this free time on my hands from being unemployed I've had the chance to catch up on shows I've missed over the years and lately I've been working on Star Trek Voyager. I'm on the seventh (and final) season and one of the episodes stuck up to me.

If you are familiar with the Star Trek tv shows you know that they often tackle relevant issues and topics in the form of posing a dilemma that the viewer can easily recognize and say, "Hey this sounds familiar." I think think this the result of the Gene Roddenberry wanting to show the future but at the same time relate to current day people. But nevermind that back to Voyager specifically.

Episode five of season seven starts off with The Doctor (not that Doctor) being kidnapped by a con man whose modus operandi is to steal from the people he trades with (for example he gave some ore to Janeway in exchange for some equipment and then created a diversion to sneak into sickbay and grab The Doctor's program and holo emitter) and using those stolen goods to make further deals.

The situation leaves The Doctor on a planet that is over crowded and burdened by what appears to be an overtaxed health care system. Patients packed into waiting rooms, severely understaffed, dim lighting and poor infrastructure, and a shortage of medications. The Doctor soon learns that this is but one level of medical care, and it is the lowest of all. 

On this world patients are sorted into different levels of care based on a TC or Treatment Coefficient that is determined by their value in society (for instance a farmer would have a higher TC than a waste disposal worker and a politician would have one even higher). A person's TC determines not just what level of the treatment facility they will go to but also what treatments they have access to. The Doctor soon discovers something off about the way TC numbers are used to prioritize treatment.

In one instance there are people in the lowest level dying of a disease with a very basic cure. However their TC is too low to receive it. It is soon discovered that not only did those with a higher TC have access to the cure but they weren't even using it for any disease. They were using it to help extend their lives as if it were a cosmetic.

So what The Doctor was facing was a situation where the people on the lowest end were dying due to lack of access to a drug that the people on the highest end had in massive supply and using it not for life saving purposes but for life extending purposes.

That's just messed.