The $3 test, or “If Celiac disease is so prevalent – why don’t we test for it more often!”

26 Nov

You’ve heard it once or you’ve heard it a thousand times – the story of someone, maybe yourself, who was sick for years and years, misdiagnosed over and over again (often with IBS) and then finally got diagnosed with Celiac disease.

My story isn’t so dramatic – I went for years of feeling “off” and sick after I ate. For the most part I always assumed I have a “sensitive stomach” and when I was lucky enough to have a family doctor in my younger years, the doctor always told me I was simply “stressed” and that it was “making me sick – literally.”

Finally, my boyfriend, a family doctor, marched me into a walk in clinic and insisted I get tested for a few different things, including Celiac disease. A positive blood test (and later biopsy), confirmed it. I was had Celiac disease. (See full story on my “About” page.)

Fast forward 6 months. I’m living in a different city and chatting with a new friend who happens to work for the provincial health authority. Celiac testing comes up and she tells me that the antibody blood test for Celiac disease costs the system three dollars.

Three dollars!! I spent over $1700 last year on health insurance premiums (I know, that’s not a lot to Americans but in the Canadian system, it’s a lot) – and lord knows, my tax dollars paid even more than that – and it took how many years to get the three dollar test that told me that I could lead a “normal” life if I switched over to a gluten free diet? WOW.

So here’s my question – if Celiac disease is for the most part undiagnosed (the latest figure I heard was that only 3% of Celiacs are currently diagnosed) – than why does it remain wildly prevalent yet still the last thing that anyone ever thinks to test for!?

It doesn’t help individuals with Celiac, or the “system” when people live with undiagnosed Celiac disease for years and develop all kinds of additional health complications that become a much bigger burden to the system than a simple, $3 blood test. Absurd.

This is my vote for the three dollar test.

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