Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Looking forward to seeing your doctor?

Medicine should be, by definition, “patient-medicine.” However, it is tending to be disease-focused. Understanding the disease and trying to eradicate it is a means of “helping” patients, but it is not the sole means. I want to be a doctor, but I don’t like going to see a doctor, because I think “there is nothing wrong with me.” Ideally, I want a doctor who would know me enough to think, “hmn, I haven’t seen this person in a while,” and one who would call to say “shouldn’t you book an appointment for a check-up so I can update myself on what’s going on with you.” After all, preventative medicine is the best medicine. Regular visits to the doctor helps in making a more accurate diagnosis, since a doctor would have seen a lot of what his or her patients’ “normal” is. The patient-doctor relationship is probably the only kind of relationship where it is acceptably one-sided. But should it be? Does it have to be?

A doctor should not just do body repair, but body maintenance as well, which helps to ensure that the body runs as efficiently as possible. Of course, this brings up the issue of people who cannot afford to visit their doctors regularly. Heck, many people have no means to pay for a visit to the doctor, and these people often have to endure being REALLY sick before they see a doctor (and it's usually an ER doctor) . I remember I signed up for student health insurance, which pays 80% of all associated cost, which was fine by me because I figured that I was healthy. But I ended up not renewing it because I was tempted to delay visits to my doctor--I would have to pay 20% of the total cost when I go for my check-up, and who knew what that 20% would mean for the meagre money in my pocket.

One's health is probably one's most valuable resource, because without it one's claim to other resources is significantly weak or even non-existent. Yet access to quality health care is a luxury that many cannot afford.

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