I've written quite a few posts about why people should give, but today's post offers my thoughts on why you should take, in particular, take advantage of every preventive service your insurance will cover. Insurance companies aim to maximize their profits. To meet this goal, they employ great mathematicians to calculate the potential income and expenses of every service their medical providers offer.
Here's a basic example:
- It costs the company $X per year to cover skin cancer screenings for everyone.
- Y% of their participants will discover problems earlier and take care of them, while Z% (Z<Y) won't find skin cancer without the screenings and will need more extensive and expensive treatments for not having found the issues earlier.
- It costs $Q to pay for treatment for later-stage skin cancer for the unscreened, but only $R to provide treatment for the higher percentage of people whose skin cancer gets caught earlier. (I realize I've created a lot of variables. If you zoned out during the alphabet part, know that I explain the basic idea below.)
- By catching the cancers earlier, the insurance company saves money, so they offer free screening services.
That's really simplistic, but the basic idea is that problems caught earlier with preventive care cost the insurance companies less than those detected later, after people have symptoms and ask for diagnostic tests. For those of us on the receiving end of this math, we should think about how the more expensive services later are often more invasive, extensive, and uncomfortable/painful. Taking advantage of free preventive care is smart math, so please schedule yourself for every vaccine and screening you can. Here's one list of government-recommended preventive care and here's the American Cancer Society's explanation of cancer screenings covered by most insurances. Your best bet is probably to check with your insurance to see what's covered and follow their guidelines, taking advantage of every test that's free to you. Once you have symptoms, the problem will be harder and costlier (time in treatment and pain and hours on the phone with your insurance and doctors) for you to solve.
I'm speaking from experience. During the pandemic, I put off all physicals with my primary care physician and with my Ob-Gyn. When I finally went in to get checked, I had a problem that would not have been difficult to deal with two years earlier, but required surgery by the time they found it. I'm fine (thanks to the good work of my doctor--thanks, HM!), so don't worry about that, but I did learn this important lesson I'm now offering with you.
What good stories do you have to share of routine screenings that saved lives? What preventive care do you get that you think others might neglect? Any other thoughts? Please share them in the comments.