Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Insurance vs. Diagnosis

Imagine a scenario where you suspect you have a debilitating illness. You have had scary symptoms, like shaking uncontrollably and randomly losing your balance, for almost a year. You have never seen symptoms like this before and you are scared. Your latest symptoms provide more insight into your disease and the doctor says that he finally has an idea what may be the diagnosis.

To confirm the diagnosis he must do some imaging. However, if he does the imaging and the imaging supports the diagnosis, then your medical record will show that you have a chronic condition. Your doctor advises you to get disability and health insurance before you get the imaging done because it will be much easier and cheaper if you get the insurance while your records say that you are healthy. However, this means you will have to wait for several more months before you know if you actually have the disease.

Did the doctor do the right thing in this scenario? He is giving his patient the opportunity to acquire affordable insurance before he confirms the diagnosis. If I was the patient, this is the scenario I would prefer. However, there are patients out there that are very anxious and want to know what their illness is immediately. For them, that anxiety outweighs the potential benefit gained from getting their affairs in order.

As usual, the right answer in this scenario is to present all the information to the patient and let them decide...even if it seems like the patient may be making life harder for themselves with their decision.

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