Unless people are living under a rock – which I guess a lot of people are – the question of whether or not TBI treatment should be accessible to all should NOT be optional.
Neither should it be at the discretion of insurance companies.
I know that we’re “still learning” about effective treatments, and the science is still out on some of them, but there are enough approaches out there that have shown great results, that it should NOT a question of whether or not to treat TBI — rather how best to treat TBI.
Of course, no insurance company is going to go for this, right now. But at the same time, I would think that some private foundation or non-profit would realize how important it is to pony up the funds to treat this very treatable condition. Yes, it can be chronic and long-term. Yes, there will likely be ongoing needs and maintenance activities. But it is manageable with the right approach(es), and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t simply be done.
Let’s do the math around this.
Say you’ve got a qualified, productive worker who holds down a job that makes them $50,000 a year. They participate in life, with their income flowing back into the economy, and their presence contributing to society’s overall health. Say they have a family — a spouse and a couple of kids, a mortgage, a college savings / retirement fund, and a couple of cars in the garage. Their spouse has a job that earns the same $50,000.
All in all, their total “dollar value” to society is around $100K – plus the interest from their credit cards and the long-term value of their college expenditures. And that’s not including the intangible value they bring to their community. They contribute to the well-being of their employer, and they make their company’s ongoing success possible.
Now, let’s throw TBI into the mix.
Long story short, they lose their job in the six months after their injury. The employer is in it for $100,000 (which is the cost to replace a seasoned worker), and they’ve also lost a top performer who contributed a lot to their ongoing success.
The spouse is now carrying the whole financial burden for the family, as well as everyday logistics, which puts a strain on them and makes it practically impossible for them to function at their customary level at work. The spouse’s employer has now also lost a valuable member of their workforce, and between the time lost to caring for the now-disabled spouse and their reduced productivity, the employer has taken a hit.
Our TBI survivor goes on disability, which costs the government x-number of dollars, and their behavioral, cognitive, and other related problems at home cause their kids a ton of problems, so they end up acting out at school, which puts another drain on the overall system. The kids need counseling, which puts another strain on the system, and given the hell that goes on at home, it’s anybody’s guess whether it’s actually going to work.
Eventually, the TBI survivor does something really “brain-injured” in the presence of the wrong person, and they end up in jail. They go into the legal system, and eventually they end up in prison. That’s another $100K per year society needs to spot them for. And that’s not even accounting for further problems with the kids.
Any number of wretched scenarios can come out of this. And it happens everyday. With people of all walks — and especially veterans (why, by the way, sacrificed so my for US, so that WE can live in peace and prosperity).
All this happens because TBI treatment is in the dark ages… and the techniques that have been shown to work — or at least show promise — have been marginalized as “fringe” so that self-respecting doctors everywhere shy away from them.
As a society, we get what we deserve when we allow this to persist.
But the TBI survivors and their loved-ones? What exactly did they do to deserve it?
The idea that treatment is “unavailable” and inaccessible because of cost is unconscionable. Yes, some of the treatments are expensive. But people pay far more for things like cars and bottles of wine, than TBI recovery for one person would ever cost. The money is there. And the opportunity for a real “return on our investment” is there, as well.
It just needs to be a priority.