Treat before we need it

We rush to an emergency room or go see a doctor when a tangible symptom surfaces on our mind or body. We think going to the hospital is our treatment.

But our body has its own counter-threat mechanism, which is still far more effective than any known medical practice. Therefore, if a symptom appears, it does not signal that something has to be done. It should mean that everything has been done (and still isn’t enough). It is not a warning yellow flag: It is an SOS sign (think of that scene in The Exorcist when Help Me appears on the girl’s stomach).

From this perspective, when we ask for a treatment, it is similar to asking for a police officer or a firefighter for our body to come around, because “things” have already happened. Aside from sharing a three-digit number emergency system, doctors, police officers, and firefighters have one common trait: their works are fundamentally TOO LATE. (I secretly assume a disproportionally high percentage of them are BDSM club members.)

It is clear what we truly need: prevention. Well, it is true that we do not pay enough attention to our body and mind, sadly. One reason is our original sin: ignorance. The other reason is cost. Preventive medical treatment doesn’t come cheap thanks to lack of public support system.

(Note: the really inexpensive cost of treatment introduced here applies to Taiwan, which has one of the greatest health care systems in the world. I would like to focus on the fact that current health care, whether it is efficient or not, is focused primarily on post-symptom treatments, not on pre-symptom preventive actions.)

I have been taking massages and yoga to treat my bodies. While yoga is becoming really inexpensive thanks to the onslaught of great yoga teachers to Taiwan (which in turn creates a problem of underpayment for them), massages and other physical therapies are totally out of the radar of current health care system. It is not uncommon that I pay nearly $100US for a single session. (But it is worth it. I am saying to myself.)

But if I go to a hospital for injuring my body due to lack of proper daily body care, I might be treated in less than $50US including X-ray, medication, and consultation thanks to subsidies.

When I focus on healthy diet, the mother of all preventive medial treatment, the sad reality becomes even sadder. Organic, nutritious food is way more expensive than processed, calorie-centric food. The situation is getting so bad that from what I heard, private farm is becoming a common perk for the riches—not only to enjoy gourmet food, but also to keep toxic materials away from their bodies.

On the other hand, under current health care system in Taiwan, I go to a dentist and have my cavity (which was created by lacking good dietary habit) fixed, pay $10US and receive free tooth brushes and paste.

Something is wrong.

The first rule of problem solving is the earlier it is taken care of, the easier solving it becomes. If we are really into saving our life, cost, and time, we should be building a support system around preventions, not on treatments. Sun-Tsu says every battle is won before it is ever fought. Why can’t our health care system be that way?

As with police officers and firefighters, the ideal world for health care is a world that does not need it. In an ideal world, health care should be covering preventive medical practice. Yoga teachers should receive benefits, body therapies be fully insured, meditation centers be available for free. Fresh organic vegetables should be cheaper than genetically modified corn.

As a result, long-term treatment cost will become much higher than it is now. But doesn’t the reduced risk of cancer, accident, or other fatal diseases more than offset the increased cost? Or, if preventive medical practice is built inside the health care system and thus be monitored and recorded, we might create an incentive system that reduces the cost for serious illness/injure for those who kept great scores on preventions. We might not be grumbling against allowing expensive treatments for people who clearly did their best to avoid fatal situations.

I will stop before I start to fall into the usual conspiracy theory of the entire medical industry creating a self-enhancing mechanics by keeping the patients constantly sick. (Too late, I am getting paranoid.) But the point remains—why not reverse the order of our health care system?