One of President Obama's arguments for "reforming" health care is that "preventive" care — more tests, more screening — will help control costs. Really? Apropos cancer, Prof. H. Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth Medical School notes:Well, I'm going to go with "The three people you save will be able to be treated early, live normal lives, and contribute positively to the GDP of the nation rather than costing taxpayers thousands in cancer treatment costs." Also, the whole point of testing the other 997 people is that ahead of time you don't which are which. This makes logical sense. You should try it sometime.Apply that across the system: How can testing 997 out of a thousand people for no good reason save money?
For starters, the majority of folks who are screened receive no benefit. That's because, despite scary statistics, most people will not get cancer. Let's look at breast cancer as an example.
According to government statistics, the absolute risk of a 60-year-old woman dying from breast cancer in the next 10 years is 9 in 1,000. If regular mammograms reduce this risk by one-third-a widely cited but by no means universally accepted claim-her odds fall to 6 in 1,000. Therefore, for every 1,000 women screened, three of them avoid death from breast cancer, six die regardless, and the rest? They can't possibly benefit because they weren't going to die from the disease in the first place.
Also, you pretty much save the lives of 3 out of every 1000 Americans, one of them who might be, you know, somebody you care about, love, or are related to you ginormous conservative douchebag.