Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prevention and Coverage: A Malignancy Revealed

This morning, Forbes brings us confirmation that preventative care is a key issue in the ongoing debate about health care reform. The article examines the ominous topic of cancer in this context:

"Having financial barriers to health care, based on insurance status, is having a significant impact on our efforts to reduce the toll of cancer," said Elizabeth Ward, director of surveillance research in the department of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society.

"We could make considerable progress in reducing cancer mortality if we could ensure that financial barriers, such as lack of health insurance, did not prevent people from getting recommended cancer screening and access to health care when they have symptoms," Ward added.
Like any health issue, the sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances. Being without coverage and having minimal financial resources makes the idea of spending money on screenings quite simply out of the question for many Americans. As with other chronic conditions, by the time a malignancy is causing enough physical discomfort for a trip to the emergency room, it is not only vastly more expensive but the chances for recovery are also drastically reduced.
"We know that the uninsured are 25 percent more likely to die than other Americans," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. "This study tells us one reason why. Many uninsured cancer victims don't get the screening and primary care that would find their disease early, when a cure is still possible," she said.
While important, these findings are not exactly new news. Go back to the top of this post and take a look at the poster image again. That poster was printed in 1938 according to the Library of Congress. It would seem that the lack of preventative care in the United States is, in and of itself, a chronic problem.

SOURCE: "Timely Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Insurance Status" 02/18/08
Public domain photo courtesy of Library of Congress via pingnews.

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