Year of Dead Celebrities: Will the New Year Be Bad for Your Health Too?

Year of Dead Celebrities: Will the New Year Be Bad for Your Health Too? December 29, 2016

2016 has been an uncommonly shitty year in so many ways. But a growing meme is that 2016 has had it out for beloved celebrities, offing them before their time with cruel abandon.

2016 has been a bad year for celebrity deaths. But the new year may be even worse for 'ordinary people.'
Drawing by A.L. Tar: People dying as a result of the plague; CC by 4.0.

The latest early celebrity deaths are, of course, Carrie Fisher followed the next day by her mother, Debbie Reynolds.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ. That god of theirs sure is a sadistic piece of shit.

Despite this apparent celebrity carnage, Snopes has effectively countered the idea that more celebrities than usual have died in 2016. Yet it does seem that an unusual number of them have met untimely demises.

But what does that mean exactly. Is any death timely?

I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date…with death!?

Image credit:
Image credit: Riccardo Ghirlardi–own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Still, with the modern lengthening of lifespans, Carrie Fisher does seem to have been cheated from a couple of decades of life. And for the fans of this icon of my childhood, we feel unusually bereft of her presence.

I never knew Carrie personally, but she played an important role in the mental landscape of my childhood. I spent countless hours in a Star Wars-inspired fantasy world, as I daydreamed my continuing adventures as one of the Star Wars gang.

Yes, that does tell you a lot about my childhood.

But can any death ever be timely? As someone who came about as close as possible to my own “untimely” demise, can I really say that my death would’ve been any more tragic than someone in her 90s?

Still, the fact that so many celebrities died young in 2016, despite having the best of medical care, seems to offend the sensibilities of even diehard atheists. (I was in a high-quality community hospital during my illness, but didn’t receive the kind of expensive care celebrities can afford.)

The secular community lost the agnostic Carrie Fisher and atheist Gene Wilder. Yet we also mourn the deaths of beloved celebrities such as Alan Rickman and Gary Shandling.

2016 was a particularly bad year for musical talents gone too soon: Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey, Prince, Merle Haggard, and George Michael. Cultural icons were hardly spared, treasures such as Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel, John Glenn, and Mohammed Ali.

(Please don’t complain if I left off your favorites; I don’t want the list to take up half of the post. But feel free to nominate your faves in the comment section.)

Many of us can’t wait to see the back of 2016. But while I feel a hole in my heart for all of these losses, I’m feeling overwhelming sense of dread over what will come in in the new year.

No, I’m not worried about which famous people 2017 will see fit to off. My fears center around the consequence of two other emotionally crushing losses–Hillary Clinton’s and the pending strangulation of Obamacare. By Riccardo Ghilardi photographer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52709660

Deathstyles of the Poor and Not Famous

The consequences of these symbolic deaths will lead inevitably to the real kind in the new year and beyond. Among the victims will be people who gained health insurance through the ACA, but found themselves unable to afford insurance once congress eliminated their subsidies and tax credits.

Of the tens of millions who will be thrown off Medicaid rolls, hundreds if not thousands will die for want of regular medical care. Million qualified for health coverage thanks to the ACA expansion of the Medicaid rolls to the working poor. Millions more will lose their benefits if the Republican achieve their wet dream of starving Medicaid of funds by converting it into block grants.

And don’t forget the people who will find themselves uninsurable. They were diagnosed with health conditions after they took ACA health plans. These conditions will prevent them from qualifying for insurance in the new Trumpcare landscape.

As I’ve pointed out, you should take Trump’s claims that he wants continue to prevent insurance companies from excluding people with pre-existing conditions with a Trump Tower’s worth of salt. Eliminating the insurance mandate–as the GOP has vowed to do–would immediately make this untenably expensive.

The insurance pool needs healthy people to help pay for the sick (like me).

So, while we should mourn the deaths of so many beloved celebrities, we shouldn’t forget that 2017 may ultimately usher in the deaths of thousands of “ordinary” people.

You won’t see their deaths trending on Facebook or Twitter. Nor will their passing inspire any memes. No one but their friends and loved ones will even know that they’re gone.

But the roster of deaths in the new year will dwarf those of the celebrities we lost in 2016.

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