Do we spend too much money on well people when it could be used to help the sick get better?
Is it just possible that the money we spend every year to test well people for Disease might be better spent on treating the ill.
Do you perhaps have a story to tell which justifies this ongoing expenditure?
I guess so . People are spending money much and more for their leisure than a sick one.
People naturally will always spend more money on themselves than on the people who need help. I do not believe that is ever going to cane though.
I guess I was wondering why the NHS for instance, spends so much money on giving people annual mammograms or cancer tests when such a small percentage prove positive.
Your lifetime risk of breast cancer alone is one in eight if you are a woman. Wouldn't it be nice for all of those ones in eight to be diagnosed before a terminal stage? From a money perspective, it's also cheaper to treat when caught early.
Early detection of any cancer raises the possibility of a cure.
I know many people where early detection of cancer was life saving. I have also seen the terrible effects of treatment which came to nothing.
Early diagnosis usually provides a better prognosis. It also is less expensive to treat things like cancer with an early diagnosis. It's less expensive to treat almost everything with an early diagnosis.
As for anecdotal evidence that yearly physicals, tests, and blood workups have value, I know of no fewer than five people diagnosed with their cancer from those tests. All of them were at stage one. They are all expected to have normal lifespans.
My roommate was diagnosed with cancer after she was sick. Her cancer was diagnosed at stage four. This is what you'd see more of if routine testing ceased. She's my best friend and sister-by-choice and it blows more than I can express.
Her father was diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer through a yearly test. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer with a yearly exam. Both her parents were diagnosed with diabetes from screening rather than by becoming ill. Instead of having to inject insulin, they can manage it with diet and exercise, and, in one case, oral medication.
My thirty-something friend got a pacemaker installed because a routine exam uncovered a severe heart arrhythmia. I like it that instead of getting sick and possibly having a heart attack, my friend gets this improved chance at a more normal life before having any serious symptoms.
How about getting rid of the insurance companies in the middle and making healthcare single-payer instead so it's cheaper rather than sacrificing people to cancer and other illnesses to save money? Why wait until cancer has symptoms, and is then more likely to be terminal, to test for it?
I think more unnecessary testing occurs when people are ill than during routine testing. It could be greatly reduced by physicians using a little more care and logic in ordering tests. For example, I have lupus, along with enough classical symptoms of lupus that lay people were asking me if I had lupus. My doctors kept ordering tests for lots of things it seemed unlikely for me to have with the symptoms I had. When I finally got a doctor who wasn't doing that, he ordered a few tests intended to rule out lupus and a handful of diseases with similar symptoms. I went through five years of unnecessary tests and suffering with untreated lupus because doctors wouldn't test for the obvious. Imagine how much less health care I'd need if they'd just run the right tests five years earlier! I might have stayed well enough to work outside my home.
I think tests for the more serious diseases should continue for at-risk age groups and types because this probably does save money in the long run.
Your question also raises the idea of one huge money pot for everyone to dip into but this is not the case in the UK and the USA and most western countries, Sweden excepted.
The privileged will always have access to tests and urgent medical care - they pay for private health and their money means lives will be saved. This is the mad world of the market working mostly for the wealthy.
The UK has the NHS - a once fabulous system which is being undermined - and they are constantly searching for ways to bring equity into the world of universal health care.
I'm sure many of their top people would love to put certain tests on the backburner in favour of say, more surgery, more drugs and so on. Getting the balance is tricky. You have a better chance of surviving a certain type of disease in one part of the country than in another because the funding is askew, which is obscene.
What I'd like to see however is a big shift in priorities. I'd like children to be made top priority here in the UK and also in the world for example.
Thousands of children die in the UK (and I'd bet it's the same in the USA) for want of an organ donor. With strong campaigns and political will this could be remedied.
The numbers of children who die needlessly each year around the world is staggering - 10 million at the last count - and all that they lack are basic things like treatments for diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles. Because most of them live in Africa the West does little or nothing to counter this scandal.
I really appreciate your taking the time to offer such a well thought out response. Getting the balance right sure is tricky. The UK has an enormous aging population, children living in poverty and an influx of additional people draining resources..
I'm a well person. I'm strong and healthy. My annual test numbers all look good---well, except my blood pressure, which is a little high. But, my doctor is helping me to work on that.
However, I had cancer two years ago. It was detected early, thanks to testing, and was removed with surgery. As a result, although I appear healthy, I'm being monitored to insure my cancer doesn't reappear in another part of my body. Instead of one gyno exam a year, I have two. I have an annual physical, and annual mammograms. Those tests might seem wasted on someone who is healthy, but the reality is that they could well save my life, by catching the reemergence of my cancer sooner rather than later.
Don't assume tests on people who are healthy are a waste. Those tests save lives. They also save thousands of dollars in treatment costs, which become more and more expensive as a disease progresses.
Sally, most of the money should be spent on preventing illness in the first place. Prevention is better than cure. So funds should be concentrated on research into finding out what causes various diseases and then finding way of preventing them. We already have vaccines to prevent things like polio. Eventually there will be similar vaccines etc to prevent cancers etc. Then money will be saved on constant medications, surgery etc.
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