Saturday, August 25, 2012

Free Health Care is Turning Europeans into Babies!

Overutilization refers to medical services that are provided with a higher volume or cost than is appropriate. In the United States, where health care costs are the highest as a percentage of GDP, overutilization is the predominant factor in its expense. Factors that drive overutilization include paying health care providers more to do more (fee-for-service) and covering patients' costs by a third-party (public or private insurance) payer. These factors leave both doctors and patients with no incentive to restrain health care prices or use.

Similarly, overtreatments are unnecessary medical interventions. They could be medical services for a condition that causes no symptoms and will go away on its own, or intensive treatments for a condition that could be remedied with very limited treatment. Over diagnosis, when patients are given a diagnosis that will cause no symptoms or harm, can lead to overtreatment.

I think that having free health care in Germany has made some residents WAY too cautious. Of course, there are things that need to be looked into and that you really shouldn't brush off. Unfortunately, those things are few and far between in the US where health care is not only not free, but in fact it's quite expensive.

Here's a few examples of ones I have heard in the past week alone.

"You drink too much water - you must have diabetes..."
Apparently it is unhealthy to drink more than 3 L of water a day and, while I don't drink that much (or even close probably, well maybe if you include the water in the beer...), I was told a story about someone who was always thirsty and had tests done at the doctor and it turns out she had diabetes. Cool story. According to the American Diabetes Association, "Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless." Below are some symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes
  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
While I do appreciate this person's concern, I don't actually possess these symptoms. While I do drink a lot of water at work, who wouldn't? It's free bottled sparkling water for Christ's sake! I get quite bothered when people make assumptions about me based on a small part of my life that they witness.

On an almost side note, I gave a poster presentation on the consumption of water and the amount varies from person to person, putting a number on how much one should or shouldn't drink is false.

"I have an ingrown nail on my foot - I will get a toxic blood disease - I have to see a doctor when I go home!"
This one was about the person saying it, not me. Honestly, I've had and ingrown nail before and, yes, they hurt, but fearing death from one, is just a step too far for me. I don't think I would ever go to a doctor for something as mundane as that, I mean, a week later with the help of some Neosporin, all is well again. I don't know, maybe put a band aid on it..? Honestly, it didn't even look infected, just a bit pink.

According to WedMD, "an ingrown nail occurs when a nail grows into the flesh at the side of the nail. This usually affects the toes, particularly the big toe." The most frequent causes of ingrown nails include:

Cutting the toenails too short or rounding the nail edges.
Wearing shoes that fit poorly or that press the nail into the toe.
An injury such as stubbing your toe, which may cause the nail to grow inward.

Most ingrown nail problems can be prevented by properly grooming the toenails and by wearing shoes that fit (I highlight this because, pain for fashion's sake isn't worth it!) Home treatment can often help relieve pain and allow the nail to grow out normally.

"You have a headache again today? You need to see the doctor, you have one yesterday too!"
According to the National Headache Foundation, over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches and of these, 28 million suffer from migraines. About 20% of children and adolescents also experience significant headaches.

There are several types of headaches; in fact, 150 diagnostic headache categories have been established. The most common types of headaches are:

Tension headaches: Also called chronic daily headaches or chronic non-progressive headaches, tension headaches are the most common type of headaches among adults and adolescents.

Migraines: The exact causes of migraines are unknown. A popular theory is that various triggers cause abnormal brain activity, which in turn causes changes in the blood vessels in the brain.

I think mine have been tension headaches lately from coming back from London and heading directly back out on the road this weekend. Nearly no time at home to relax and just getting back out there.

There are probably more self diagnosis' available from Germans as a whole, however, these being the most recent suggestions, I thought they should be mentioned.

I guess that's the end of my rant. Urg!

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