As your blog item notes, we better stop "saving" money by restricting formularies and delaying treatment, or there may be fewer lives to save and less money to treat the survivors.
Let me elaborate with one example, Type II diabetes, a condition I follow closely because I have it.
I spent much of the weekend catching up on the new research presented late last year at the World Diabetes Conference in Capetown, South Africia, supporting more aggressive treatment of Type II diabetes.
The research results are exciting. First, earlier and more aggressive treatment will improve blood sugar control and delay the progression of the disease to where becomes ever more difficult to treat and to where complications proliferate. Second, new drugs and new ways to deliver existing drugs provide exciting evolutionary, though not revolutionary, advances. Recently approved and promising new drugs could delay progression of the disease for five to ten years. That could well mean that a 60 year old like me may never go blind, lose a foot, become impotent, require a liver transplant, have a premature heart attack, or face many of the other common complications of this dreaded, deadly disease.
Avoiding these things saves a lot of money in the long run, but requires time, attention and money. Right now -- not a few years from now -- I, my health plan, my doctor and the goverment must focus on more aggressive treatment. That requires pain and money.
For me, it means a significant personal committtment, including:
1. even more aggressive diet and exercise,
2. careful adherence to drug regimines, and
3. giving myself shots of insulin or insulin boosters.
For my doctor, it means education and monitoring much of which is not fully compensated.
For my health care plan and the government, it means spending more money today on treatment and drugs.
For me today's pains are worth the investment. I will work hard with my doctors and my payment partners to keep me healthy and make the investments needed. I will make up any shortfall from the others if needed. I'm fortunate enough to have the means and committment to do so.
Meanwhile, medical policy makers who review this new research must make a similar committment, and lead us to find the means to act on it.
Time is short. We are looking down the barrel of an epidimic of Type II diabetes that may dwarf the personal and social costs of the treatment of things like AIDS and cancer. Unfortunately, denial is the all too common reaction to the social danger of diabetes today.
Right now, medical policy makers must stop denying the cost and trouble of treating Type II diabetes. We must mobilize health care professionals, patients and government, take advantage of existing and developing science, and take a much more aggressive stance.
Denial of treatment at today's pace will mame and kill our bodies and bankrupt our treasuries.
John -- keep those cards and letters coming.