Monday, June 20, 2011

Screening tests - good or bad?

There is a little furor (debate, discussion, disagreement, shouting match, hoo-haa, to-do, etc) going on regarding screening tests. First of all are the disputes about which tests should be done and when - mammograms at 40 or 50, prostate checks - are they worth it, and more. All sorts of meetings are going on around the country and doctors and specialists and other 'important' people are arguing about it and some even are quitting their jobs over them.

Well, they can argue all they want because I don't want to get into a discussion about whether they are important or not because that's not my business. And 'with your medical history, they need to be sure', so I get them all anyway. (Well not the prostate checks, but the rest of them.)

I think its great that they will be free to encourage people to get them annually. I think a lot of people look at it as a cost savings or just as incentive not to deal with a test or a big needle (or a camera somewhere it doesn't belong). I mean if someone says go have this test and it will cost you $100, people can quite easily say 'no, I don't need it'. But if they are told, go have this test and its free, they are more likely to agree.

So now people are speaking up, if you have this free screening, if they find something - WARNING - it will cost you money. Ahem, isn't that the point of screening tests? To catch them before you end up having something nasty and really expensive?

I agree if you have a colonoscopy and they find something that needs to be removed and tested, you have left the 'free test' zone and have moved into the land of 'medical bills'. The free part is the test. The not free part is the 'we found something before it was bad'. But perhaps, they should be a bit more explicit in saying 'if we find something, it will cost you' (and not just in your wallet). It really means, welcome to the medical roller coaster and if you are lucky you can get off it after the results of the biopsy.

The point is the screening test is free but not the testing that might result after. Get over it. That means they caught something before it killed you. To put it bluntly, would you rather be out a few hundred dollars or dead?

As a poster child for the results of screening tests and heeding medical advice, I can tell you they are worth it. I may not be rich but I'm still here.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

well said!
a regular screening caught my cancer early - if I had not have had the screening, who knows..