Being able to treat a medical problem is good, but dodging the problem altogether is even better. That seems obvious, yet Medicare has only recently expanded coverage for services that help prevent or stave off some of the diseases that make people very ill and — not coincidentally — cost Medicare mountains of money.
Following up my last post - Learning to Say No to Doctors - I was interested to read results of a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association that reported up to 38 percent of colonoscopies performed on those between 76 to 85 years old (and almost 25 percent of those over 86) were potentially inappropriate under existing guidelines. I take a personal interest in this procedure because colon cancer played a significant role in my father's decline and his death in October 2012.
It's not exactly a crystal ball, but researchers have developed a simple "mortality index" - you might call it a death test - to figure out an older person's risk of dying in the next 10 years.
If you were likely to get Alzheimer's disease in the future, would you want to know? The question is largely hypothetical at the moment, but might not be for much longer.
Endless experts have told us that health care costs keep increasing and that the country needs to do something to hold them in check, but is being "parsimonious" with health care decisions really the best, ethical solution?
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