Disclaimer (skip if you don't care): Alright...I'm gonna take a drastic turn here. The social darwinist in me is bubbling. Now, I want to preface everything that follows by saying that in *practice* I am a very humane and caring individual, full of compassion for my fellow man, and were I to see another person suffering and were I able to do something about it, I most certainly would. So the following is simply an idea, another viewpoint in the discussion, not the codes of life to which I adhere to. That being said...
With the advance of modern medicine, the question of who DESERVES what treatment is more important than ever. Ruby cited her 1940s-trained grandfather as a source of medical knowledge, but the world has revolved many times in 60 years (over 60 times, in fact!). Back then, there really wasn't much choice in treatment...if you had X problem, you took Y0, Y1, or Y2 drug, or you simply did some sort of homeopathic remedy and hope your problem didn't get any worse, or that you didn't die. If you were unlucky enough to have mental instability, you got some electroshock, or possibly a lobotomy. Today, if you have X problem, you can take Y0 to Y100 drug, or have the same alternatives as before.
Now, considering that drugs have gotten more and more effective, and what used to be a HUGE problem back in 1940 can be taken care of easily today (penicillin was invented in 1928 and it wasn't until 1942 that it was *first* successfully used on a patient...thank you, wikipedia), you've got to ponder who actually deserves the more expensive, yet effective medicines, and who doesn't. What exactly is the cost of the "right" to life? Is there even such a thing as a right to life? Is medicine something that falls into the basic system of the free market?
Here's the really evil question, though...if people can't afford medicine, shouldn't they just die? It's survival of the fittest after all, natural selection. Those who have the means to should live, while those who don't shouldn't even worry about it. Today doctors have the option to use insanely expensive drugs and treatments to keep people with failing kidneys and hearts alive. Who actually "deserves" those treatments? In 1940, if your kidneys failed, you were screwed. Today, there's dialysis, quite the expensive procedure. Now that the option is available, who exactly should exercise it?
A doctor's job is to simply lay out options. It's the patient's job to dictate what she's going to do. Don't want to pay for expensive treatments? Ok, just die then. That's what would've happened 60 years ago, since we didn't have all these new-fangled drugs to save your life. You wanna exercise and diet *NOW*? Ok...cool...that's your choice. Go ahead and do that...but, hey, if you're 40+, with a bad heart, you're bordering on "too little, too late". There are ALWAYS options, the fundamental question is whether or not people *deserve* X, Y, or Z treatments.
My true, personal opinion is that no one DESERVES anything...you work for what you want, and that's that. If you can't afford medicine, well, too bad. I *choose* to live my life with compassion however, and even though I don't feel that my neighbors are *deserving* of the air they breathe, I still respect them as individuals and would give them a hand or three if they needed it. Being alive entitles you to nothing other than the opportunity to do something with said life. If at some point your health fails and you can't afford the medicines to prolong it, then you've managed to live to the extent of your *natural* life. Disease and illness is natural...if you're meant to go, you're meant to go. Medicine just gives us an opportunity to fight against that and prolong our lives...that's not something that everyone simply deserves to be able to do. If you can afford it, go for it...if not, well, at least try to say goodbye before you go.