The Red Cross announced that its blood supply are at dangerously low levels – down about 10% from last June, and last June was the lowest level in fifteen years. There are calls to open up blood donations to gays (specifically, men who have slept with men in the last year), or to pay blood donors. I have already addressed the myriad problems with allowing MSM to donate blood; many other writers have discussed the problems with paying for blood.
A far better solution is to charge directly for blood (i.e. the insurance company does not pay; the individual would), but only charge for blood that is not offset by other donations. For example, if someone receives five units of blood, the patient could tell his friends and family to donate in his name and offset the blood that he received. Likewise, a person’s own prior donations could offset their use of blood in a future situation, as could very recent donations by the patient’s family. If my hypothetical patient above had donated twice in his lifetime, and his mom happened to have donated a month prior to his surgery, he would only have to find two people to donate for him, or he would be charged for two units.
It would provide a tremendous incentive for people to donate regularly throughout their lives. Deferred donors, or those ineligible to donate, could have smaller penalties, or no penalties at all, reflecting our desire to keep our blood supply safe.
Another option is to use such a system only for those who receive blood in elective surgeries. I feel really lousy when I donate blood, but I do it because it could save someone’s life, not because some chicky wants a bigger, perkier rack.