Cost-Benefit Analysis

We have all done it.  We’ve said ‘I can’t afford it’ or ‘It’s not worth the cost’ or ‘That is too expensive’.  In other words, we did a cost-benefit analysis and decided not to spend our money.  A cost-benefit analysis, done well, allows you to compare choices and calculate if it is wise to spend money.  I used it recently because my cast came off (yippee: two-handed typing again) and I needed to get movement back into my right hand.

The morning I left to get my cast removed, a CBC radio program talked about people with less income having poorer health outcomes.  I got to experience this first hand, pun intended.  When my cast came off, and an X-ray showed the bone had healed, the doctor asked me if I received benefits.  No, I told him.  He gave me two photocopied sheets of paper with exercises for hands and wrists and told me to do them.  What about physiotherapy, I asked.  Clearly he was surprised and said, ‘Oh, here is a list of physio clinics in the area.”  Because I didn’t receive benefits, he did not even intend to mention physiotherapy as a course of action.

In my experience, physiotherapy helps me heal faster.  The bones in my wrist lay unmoving for five weeks in the cast.  They were stiff and the muscles around them were unused.  Perhaps my hand would have recovered without physiotherapy, but why take the chance?  A cost-benefit analysis for the health of my valuable hands told me physiotherapy was a better course of action, despite the cost, than choosing the free option of just doing the exercises.  I wanted the best chance of recovery and would do the exercises and the physiotherapy.

The initial session in physiotherapy lasted one hour and cost $90.  The follow-up sessions cost $60 for 30 minutes.  Sean measured my strength, and it showed my dominant right hand now measured only half of the strength of my non-dominant left hand.  Clearly I needed exercises to build this strength back up.  One session he worked as a bone crusher, manipulating the many stiff bones in the interior of my palm.  I put on a brave face and went home and took more Advil.  A friend’s mother is a nurse and she suggested taking pain killers BEFORE physiotherapy to make the experience less, well, painful.  Thanks Mrs. B, good tip.

What the doctor could not tell me, due to time limitations and the many other people waiting in the fracture clinic, involved the level of discomfort I would feel and why it was important to use my hand as naturally as possible, even when it hurt.  He only had about 5 minutes with me and gave me the bare bones plan.  I took the photocopied sheets to my physio session.  Sean demonstrated the exercises, gave me weights to use, gave me more exercises, made me do the exercises, and showed me how to tell if I was doing them properly to get my hand back in top shape.

If we just consider the cost of taking some action, and don’t explore the benefits, we can make poor decisions that end up hurting us down the road.  Whether it is flossing your teeth, saving for retirement, or getting physiotherapy, these are actions taken today that will bring future benefits.  Not instant gratification, but long-term benefits.  You are investing in your tomorrow.

When I looked up cost-benefit analysis on the internet, one site described it as a technique “…used to determine whether a planned action will turn out good or bad.”  What a joke.  It’s not magic.  Cost-benefit analysis takes thought, and time, and widens our perspective.  It doesn’t make a decision for us, but it helps us to make more informed decisions.

That is what’s on my mind today, what do you think?

Victoria Ryce


avatarAuthor Bio ~ RycePapers  (87 Posts)

I am a former stockbroker, banker, international corporate trainer, and community shared agriculture worker. Have a Master's Degree in Human Systems Intervention (people and change). A big recycler, dog lover, reader, author of two books and yoga chick. Widowed and living in the country. Grow my own tomatoes and garlic to make salsa. Yummy.

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6 Responses to “Cost-Benefit Analysis”

  1. Great, insightful post!

    It’s all about moving from the now to being more proactive and for a comprehensive betterment.

  2. Great post. I’m glad your hand is doing well.

    Heathcare is difficult without benefits.

    I’m a healthcare provider in the US. We’re trained to make the same recommendations regardless of cost, to “do the best you can” and to cover ourselves legally.

    Recently, a patient told me the drug we prescribed is $8,000 per month, with a $1500/month copay. That’s the least expensive one in that family of medications. The patient has failed every other drug category for their diagnosis. The manufacturer’s assistance program doesn’t cover people much over the poverty line. You can be way over the poverty line and not have a spare $1500/month.

    I struggle with what do do with those folks. Recommending something that you know someone can’t afford feels terrible. I try to explain all the options and the up and down side of each. I don’t want people to feel trapped, or to be uncaring about their financial situation, or to get sued because I recommended something and couldn’t help them get it or because I didn’t recommend something that might have helped because I knew it was unobtainable. I don’t want people bankrupted by my suggestions. I don’t want people to feel embarrassed or ashamed if they can’t afford what we suggest. I’m tired of being blamed for it – I know it’s not personal, but I’ve had patients get angry with me because I have nothing cheaper to offer. I can’t change drug prices or copays. We already spend hours every week doing prior authorizations, but that doesn’t change a high copay.

    There are days when I wish I worked in a country with socialized medicine, so this wouldn’t be much of an issue. The closest we have in the US to this is Medicare, and that’s got nearly as many headaches, especially with prescription drug coverage. Any of you out there who do work in socialized medicine – how much time do you spend on cost issues? Is it a struggle to get the accepted appropriate therapy covered? Should I be packing my bags for Canada or England?

  3. You are spot on…I always say up front that we are willing to pay extra to have the proper/best care needed in a situation. Thankfully, we are able to make that work for our family, at this time. I am not willing to allow health options take a back burner to dinner out, and once again, thankfully, those are the choices in our household…as opposed to a family that just can’t afford either. :( Also, despite the various flaws in the system…I am so grateful for the medical coverage and care we receive as Canadians…several times my hubby and I have discussed that if we lived other places we might be bankrupt by now with the couple of medical crisis’ we’ve weathered in the last 8 years.
    All the best as you heal and strengthen!

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