Thank you, readers, for all of your deeply thought-provoking comments to my last post. As much as I would like to address each one of you individually, I’m afraid I just don’t have intelligent responses to all of the questions posed.
I have heard of several people having similar experiences where an illness whether mysterious or not was misdiagnosed, undiagnosed or diagnosed in such a tardy fashion as to no longer be applicable. One clucks and shakes their heads at these stories until it happens to them. I hadn’t experienced first hand the frustration of seeing a loved one in pain while doctors twiddle their thumbs and leisurely plod through bureaucratic bullshit.
Ultimately, it all comes down though to trying to save a buck. While diagnostics may be a dying art form that is shifting irreversibly to pure technology, there is a way to use it to our advantage. If CT scans were even somewhat routine in general medicine, of course Dean’s condition wouldn’t have taken as long to be diagnosed. But think of how many tumors could be detected before symptoms are presented. There is a way to use CT scans to assess artery plaque build up before you even have a heart attack! Of course health insurance companies won’t pay for it because they don’t believe in early detection; just treatment after the shit hits the fan.
For health care to improve in this country, health insurance companies need to look beyond their noses and see value in catching diseases early, before the long hospital stays and surgeries. The government must also value preventative medicine and get off their asses to make sure everyone has health care. And no, simply giving a tax break so that people can optionally use that money for private health insurance isn’t going to cut it. Don’t tell me that people need to be responsible for their own health because when it comes down to choosing between using that money to get a seemingly trivial annual pap smear and feeding your family, which one will win? And it’s not an education thing. I can’t count how many fellow physics grad students don’t have health insurance. Funny how it is illegal in
Okay, now I’m way off topic. But really, these are the sorts of things I know other Americans will be thinking about when they go to the polls next year. We are sick of special interests, Big Pharma and the paralysis of trying to get fixed simply because our insurance would rather shell out later than sooner. I might not have thought about it as seriously had I not had a front row seat to the circus that is our health care system.
Thank you especially to the three nurses and one pharmacist who weighed in and gave some of their insight into this (as well as the biologist, the two physicists, the ever articulate barista and the two kickass tech guys). Damn we have some good conversations!