A couple of days ago, a good friend (male) confided that he’d gone in for his annual checkup, and his doctor had found prostate cancer. Fortunately, it was very early, and the prognosis for full recovery is excellent. His surgery would be outpatient, and he’d be home the next day.
I commented that this was exactly why those annual exams are so important, especially for those of us getting along in years. He nodded his head, and proceeded to share a story.
He has a friend–a tennis buddy–who skipped those check-ups for three years. When he finally went to the doctor, he also had prostate cancer, but it was already stage four. They could slow it down, and give him an extra year–perhaps two. But that was it.
He’d skipped those physicals because he’d been between jobs, and without health insurance.
With all the talk about “Obamacare” and the focus on costs and mandates and political ideologies, we sometimes forget the consequences of our current system for real people. This man will die many years before he otherwise would. Those are years he won’t spend with his wife, won’t watch his children and grandchildren mature and grow, or play tennis with my friend.
If you don’t care about the human equation, I’ll just point out that these are also years he won’t pay taxes, and that the medical costs of treating him at this stage vastly exceed the costs of curing my friend at an early stage of the disease–prevention and early interventions are far less costly than later treatment.
Sometimes, a story tells the story.