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Melinda wrote a blog talking about her fall from a ladder, and the injuries she sustained as a result. She talked a little about bacta and its uses. You can read her blog here. It got me thinking about the medical system and how it relates to more permanent illnesses or injuries. What follows is some speculation and thoughts on this topic.

Let me talk a little about Bacta. This is part of the entry in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia:

“The most common and effective healing salve employed in the galaxy. Gelatinous, translucent red alazhi and kavam bacterial particles were suspended in a lotion that had been used for thousands of years by the Vratix to heal cuts. The particles were mixed with the colorless liquid ambori. The resulting synthetic chemical–bacta–was thought to mimic the body’s own vital fluids and was used to treat and heal all but the most serious of wounds. Patients were fully immersed (with breath masks) in the expensive liquid, which was held in cylindrical rejuvenation tanks (bacta tanks). The bacterial particles sought out wounds and promoted amazingly quick tissue growth without scarring. The popularity of bacta led to its replacing kolto as the predominant healing solution.” 1

The only instance we see bacta in use in the movies is during Luke’s recovery in “ESB.” There are numerous instances in “The Clone Wars” and the novels where bacta is mentioned but those are during wartime, and bacta is used primarily for the soldiers. During peacetime, how did normal citizens get access to it, and for how was it paid? Was bacta able to heal chronic illnesses, or were there other methods?

If someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as kidney disease, or liver failure, or a variety of other conditions, would the patient’s doctor prescribe a series of bacta treatments, or would they have to prescribe a different treatment? Were there facilities that cleaned a patient’s blood? Or, was there the possibility of getting an organ transplant, and being able to live a normal life? I believe the answer to all these questions is “Yes,” but the type of treatment available depended greatly on where the patient lived. For instance, on the more developed planets like Coruscant or Alderaan, I feel that most of the treatments were available, but I think the treatments were ultra expensive, and only the wealthy elite had access to regular treatments. On the more primitive planets, like Tatooine or Geonosis, the treatments would only be available in the larger cities, like Mos Eisley. If the treatments were available, chances are the patient would have to travel a great distance, or move closer to the treatment facility. One might even have to travel offworld.

Then there is the issue of payment. We don’t know if there was any kind of insurance available. Employers might have offered insurance for the workers and their families, but at what cost? Was any portion of the treatments’ cost covered, or did it depend on the type of treatment or insurance? Maybe a government, be it planet-wide or limited to cities and their surrounding areas, offered a universal or government-run healthcare system that covered all kinds of treatments. Then there’s the travel costs, like food, lodging, or fuel. Were those covered?

You might be asking why I’m interested in the topic. Well, I have kidney failure and need regular dialysis treatments to clean my blood and remove excess fluid from my body. In order to live a better life, I need to have these treatments on a regular basis. There is the option of getting a kidney transplant, but that is expensive and requires an extensive amount of travel and recovery In addition to my kidney failure, there are some other minor health issues that might actually be fixed by bacta, but I would still need to pay for them, somehow.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment and tell me your own thoughts. Or if you like, you can send an e-mail to joe2@coffeewithkenobi.comand I will be sure and reply. Remember, the Force will be with you, Always.

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Footnotes

1. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia by Steve Sansweet and Pablo Hidalgo; Copyright 2008 by Lucasfilm Ltd

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6 Comments

  1. Dan Z & Cory Clubb
    June 8, 2014 at 10:46 Reply

    This may be your best one yet; excellent!

  2. Jeff
    June 8, 2014 at 11:27 Reply

    Lots to ponder here, Joe. Some think that Lucas got a little too interested in issues like this in the prequels, at the expense of a human story, but this particular topic is really the most human story there is in our current situation. My cynical side feels like even if we HAD something as miraculous as Bacta today, it would be in the hands of big pharma and out of reach for most people, assuming it was even allowed to be public. As Chris Rock said, the money ain’t in the cure, it’s in the medicine.

    If it DID exist, I think the advertising slogan would have been “Bacta: The Future!”……say that out loud and my joke works.

  3. pambruchwalski
    June 8, 2014 at 13:48 Reply

    (((hugs))) to you, Joe for all you deal with on a daily basis. It sucks, and I truly wish I had some free bacta for you to take care of everything that ails you.

    With two pharmacists in the family, my husband and daughter, this subject and the commentary on it are near and dear to my heart. I have many friends and family members who suffer (or have suffered) from terrible diseases and health-related hardships. Money, proximity…all the things you mentioned are factors.

    But the one thing no one ever mentions is the cost to create and administer “miracle drugs” like bacta. Does anyone believe that these things are free to create? That those who labor to create such drugs after spending years to educate themselves and pay for that education don’t need or deserve to be compensated? Do you know how many drug failures happen before the one success that creates the miracle drug? How many thankless hours go into the research and development it takes to make ONE drug to safely help people?

    I won’t belabor the point, but It is no more “free” to create miracle drugs like bacta than it is obtain them.

    The REALLY geeky side of me has wondered more than once if moisture farming really allowed for the purchase of land speeders and droids, let alone the potions and cures in Owen and Beru’s medicine cabinet.

    There’s got to be a good answer to all of this out there somewhere. 🙂

  4. Jay Krebs
    June 11, 2014 at 11:16 Reply

    Nicely done, Joe! Lots to think about here…

    Dealing with medical issues is never an easy thing. For anyone involved.

    For a long while, I know you have been in the midst of the frustrations of health care, meds, treatments… as well as the emotional, psychological and financial toll these issues cause. I won’t go into my own woes with health issues, but suffice it to say I’ve had my share of serious and life-threatening obstacles, so I can empathize with you in some ways ((((hugs)))).

    There is no one right answer. I am thankful that, as a society, we have made the leaps and bounds in medical care that we have. If not, I can guarantee I wouldn’t be here to type this little response. Did I enjoy this life-saving effect because I’m wealthy? Heck, no. I agree with Pam in that we can’t point our finger at those who are in the pharm business. It’s BECAUSE they are there, getting education and putting in research time, sweat and tears, that WE can enjoy those benefits…however small or large they may be. We can take a good, hard look at ourselves, too. What are WE doing to take care of ourselves as a society? Look at the high rate of different types of PREVENTABLE diseases. Lots of people are out there engaging in behaviors that are known to lead to certain conditions, then we cry about it and blame others for the state we’ve put ourselves into. You know what they say – be careful when pointing fingers. One is pointing at others, but we have three pointing back at ourselves…

    Obviously, not all conditions/diseases are self-inflicted, and I’m not trying to say that ANYONE “deserves” to suffer from poor health just because he/she engaged in some type of lifestyle or activity. Was my brain hemmorhage due to my lifestyle? No. Was my nephew’s cancer, that took him from us at age 10 caused by something he or his parents did? Nope…so does that mean “we” should have been above others in the health care line because it wasn’t “our fault?”… Obviously, you’ve sparked something in me, and I could go on and on, but I digress…

    I do feel that sometimes it’s unfair that not everyone can “enjoy” all of the meds and treatments out there, just because it’s beyond the price range one can afford. However, if everything in life were fair, life wouldn’t be fair. Does that make sense?

    I believe eveything happens for a reason…it may not always be “fair,” and we may not always like it, but my faith tells me there’s a bigger picture.

    God bless you, Joe!
    (((((another hug)))))

  5. Becca Benjamin
    June 18, 2014 at 19:22 Reply

    Wow! This is such an emotionally moving entry….my apologies for getting to this so late.

    So much to ponder, great thoughts here, Joe. To be honest, I never really wondered too much about the “health care” in SW. Now that you mention it, it’s got my gears churning…or should that be turning? No matter, you bring so may intriguing ideas.
    I mean, who paid for Grevious transformation? Was he covered under the Palpatine Plan?
    Assuming that was such a thing, or was there a Republic Health Relief Program? If so, who would qualify? Speaking of which, I wonder if the clones held their own health care package, under the Kaminoians? To me, that would make sense. Seeing as they were their creators and obviously had the means to care for them if they were need of health aid.

    On a personal note, you have more strength and courage than anyone I know. With that said, I hope more than anything you find your relief sooner than later. May the Lord/Force or whatever your faith may be, bring that to you.

    Great Blog!

  6. Melinda
    June 22, 2014 at 14:00 Reply

    Great blog, Joe! 🙂 I know that not everything mentioned or inferred in the films can be explained or dealt with in the parameters of each film’s running, but what you have brought up is one more clear example of the realm and depth of Star Wars. For every creature, for every planet, being or item to which we are given an inkling or introduction, there is a developed backstory somewhere. Yes, those backstories might instigate more digging — as your topic most definitely has — and they might pose more questions than answers right now … but who knows? Those queries of yours just might result in some answers somewhere down the line! 🙂

    Your musings certainly have peaked my curiosity! 🙂

    On a personal note, I hope it won’t be too much longer before you get the relief you need. 🙂 (((Joe))) I think of you often, and hope you’re doing well. 🙂

    … I was going to read your entry before I left for England, and I am so glad I didn’t. Truthfully, I would have been rushed had I done so at the time …. not giving it the proper contemplation this really deserves. Interestingly enough, I just watched “Dallas Buyers Club”, and your musings — as well as those of some of your respondents — definitely hit home. This most definitely was a timely read. Thank you. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

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