Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sick Care

Listening to c-span I hear a senator talking about health care. One of the big points everyone is trying to make is that we need to focus on "wellness", i.e. preventative care. The statistic the senator cited was that 95% of care is in response to sickness and 5% is for preventative care. I believe the senator hasn't thougt through his statements. To me the ratio makes sense and there is a hidden danger in advocating "wellness" willy nilly as if it had no cost whatsoever.

First, most people go to the doctor when they are sick. It's not fun to go to the doctor, so we usually wait until the benefit (feeling better) outweighs the cost (the doctor's bedside manner). Therefore it makes sense that we would overwhelmingly go see the doctor when we are sick versus when we are well.

Secondly, there is a cost to "wellness". The idea is that if you get screened sooner then you will be able to prevent disease or treat it earlier which will save money. I don't believe this is correct. First, we will all get sick and die and the majority of health care costs are for end of life care. Even with wellness you are going to die once and only once and logically it follows that that cost must remain the same. In fact one could argue that it would go up because you would have received less care with a later screening.

Lastly, "wellness" is really code for lifestyle. As far as I know, there is no pill out there to make you super healthy. If you are healthy, your healthy and all the visits to the doctor won't make you any healthier. The costs to visit the doctor as a healthy person to find out that you are a stud is a waste of money. People can radically improve their health through simple lifestyle changes which no health care system can dictate.

Hmmmm, on second thought maybe it can?


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