Individual health insurance and preventive medicine

The world is a busy place and we run around with ever longer to-do lists wondering where we will find the time to get everything done. Although the last century was equally fraught as we lived through it, the pressure on our time seems to be increasing. In some ways, it's the fault of the recession. With the threat of unemployment more real, we must be seen to work longer and harder to keep the jobs we have. Now add in the internet with all our new social networks to keep up to date and the new must-watch television shows. This doesn't leave much time for essential tasks like shopping, eating and sleeping. This explains why the pick-up rate on preventive medicine is so poor. We just don't seem to have the time. This is unfortunate.

Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive medicine is to be made a higher priority. Why should this make a difference? Well, if the physicians catch illnesses, diseases and disorders early enough, treatment is quick and cheap and, more often than not, very effective in curing us. If we delay until the symptoms are just too bad to ignore, this means treatment will be more expensive and there may already have been damage which will leave us with chronic problems. Now think about the costs. Because of the early intervention, the insurance company saved money and you had a better quality of life. If this was the general experience, the cost of healthcare would fall. The premium rates would fall. You would be happy. This is the norm in Europe. Why is this not the standard model for us? The answer is the opposition of the medical community. They have invested capital in building ever larger hospitals and clinics. People only use these facilities when they are more seriously ill. The longer the period of treatment, the more money the doctors and their employers make. So the medical community has a direct financial interest in seeing us get more ill and stay ill longer. That's where all their profit comes from.

Let's take two simple examples to see how preventive medicine can help. In a recent survey, 85% of the adult population recognized the importance of vision health. This is not, you understand, just about deciding whether you need a new prescription for spectacles or contacts. In the same survey, 89% of participants knew the eye exam also detects chronic diseases like diabetes. So, if you were to have your eyes tested once a year, the early signs of diabetes would be identified and, with changes to your diet, you could avoid the need for dependence on insulin injections for the rest of your life (it also avoids the cost of the treatment). Following the European model, registered nurses are now being licensed to reach out to people in the community to monitor for symptoms of diabetes and manage the problem if diagnosed. This is a big cost saving and, if this was applied to other problems, it would save on cost and time because the treatment comes to you - it would bring cheap health insurance nearer as well. So when you are thinking about your individual health insurance plan, pay particular attention to preventive care. It can save you time and money.