If you think wellness screenings, or “preventative care” as the insurance companies define it, keep you healthy, consider that they are merely diagnostic and do not change your health status.
Dental X-rays don’t prevent tooth decay; they reveal it. Mammograms don’t prevent cancer; they reveal lumps. Scans, screenings, exams, and imaging don’t prevent disease; they only reveal it after it has begun. These wellness screenings for high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar, don’t impact the disease that is creating it. They merely detect it. Insurance covers preventative health screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. They tell you if you have disease, not how to keep you healthy.
The goal of a health screening is not to prevent disease but to detect it before it gets worse. This detection is not prevention. A person isn’t always well just because the screening comes back with a clean bill of health. Research shows that some forms of cancer may take 20 years to develop before they are detectable.
You have been informed that if you are screened for a disease, it can be prevented. That is simply untrue. A dental X-ray may reveal a cavity, but it doesn’t prevent it from occurring. The progression may be prevented, such as filling a cavity before having the tooth pulled. Screenings aren’t necessarily bad, unless they are exposing you to ionizing radiation, which in that case, the costs would outweigh the benefits. Preventative screenings are an oxymoron. Screenings may prevent disease progression; they don’t prevent disease.
“People in America may not live longer, but we sure do a better job taking pictures (scans) of them dying.”
– Otis Brawley, MD
Fresh Ideas to Extend Your Expiration Date
- Get health screenings if you think they are necessary. They will not prevent disease but may keep the disease from progressing further.
- Don’t depend on a health screening to tell you if you are healthy or not.
- Be proactive rather than reactive and implement healthy changes now.
Over Diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, provides an in-depth look at the risks and pitfalls versus the benefits of disease screenings for healthy individuals. He takes a look at excessive diagnosis, changing diagnostic values, and the ability to do harm with over-treatment.