In his January 5, 2017, Op-Ed piece about the GOP’s threats to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof again cites the jarring case of his Harvard College roommate, a fellow Oregonian named Scott Androes. After switching careers in 2003 Scott decided not to purchase healthcare insurance in the individual market because it was too expensive. Then in 2011 when he experienced difficulties urinating but didn’t see a doctor due to the high costs of doing so. By the following year there was blood in his urine, and he was frightened enough to seek medical help. But he had waited too long; He was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer.
Sharing A Friend’s Story of Prostate Cancer
“I blew it,” Mr. Androes told the Times’ Kristof, shortly before he died in October 2012 at the age of 52. “I feel like a damned fool.” But he had wanted his writer friend to publicize his case – even in an article that focused on his poor decisions – because he wanted people to understand the human cost of the lack of universal insurance in our country.
Add to the rising costs and high deductibles of health insurance faced by individuals like Scott Androes the conclusions of the United States Preventive Services Task Force – a strong recommendation against the prostate-specific antigen-based screening for prostate cancer, which has given pause to doctors who have long been administering PSA screenings as part of regular physical exams. (Read the 2012 recommendation and the grade of D the Task Force gives to the PSA test.) Combine an underperforming healthcare system which costs 2-3x more as a share of GDP than other industrial countries, an official government recommendation against PSA screenings, and a general reluctance among men to regularly go to the doctor, and it doesn’t take a research fellow to see why prostate cancer diagnoses are down (via fewer screenings) – but the percentage of later stage cases is on the rise.
So back to Scott Androes, who found it too expensive to buy insurance on the individual market.
So why didn’t I get physicals? Why didn’t I get P.S.A. tests? Why didn’t I get examined when I started having trouble urinating? Partly because of the traditional male delinquency about seeing doctors. I had no regular family doctor; typical bachelor guy behavior.
The number of insured will certainly drop if Republicans “repeal and delay,” and more uninsured Americans will result in more Americans dying prematurely. That’s why the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association have both warned Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a specific piece of legislation to replace it.
As our charity advocates for the early detection of prostate cancer, a government that increases the rolls of the uninsured while also recommending against PSA screenings represents a self-inflicted headwind in the fight against prostate cancer and the long-term undertaking to improve health outcomes, the quality of men’s lives, and daunting mortality rates.
Read the original article online: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/kristof-a-possibly-fatal-mistake.html