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More Medical Care Isn’t Always Better


Image: Laughing Squid under CC 3.0

When it comes to holding down health insurance plan costs, it is generally agreed on that a main factor is the sheer amount of utilization of medical care. Innovations in technology have resulted in significant improvements in life expectancy, but many believe that there are times when health care services are overused.

Obviously, nobody wants to forgo screenings or treatment when it’s necessary. However, there are some times when they can do more harm than good. For example, the risk of radiation from repeated colonoscopies, mammograms and CT scans can add up, while doing relatively little to catch cancer early in most patients under a certain age. Some believe that lifetime exposure can even increase a person’s risk of cancer!

Why is medical care often overused? Patients often demand it, and doctors may take the path of least resistance. Physicians may also be worried about being sued for medical malpractice in the worst-case scenario; doctors are more likely to be sued if they are perceived to not have done enough. Also, doctors tend to be paid on a per-procedure basis, giving them an incentive to perform more tests and procedures. No matter what, the cost is paid for by your health insurer, and passed onto you through more expensive health insurance premiums.

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