The argument is obviously that these patients had a good chance to prevent getting seriously ill, yet they chose not to do so by omitting to undergo screening. Timely detection of early stage cancer and early intervention dramatically reduce serious illness and death.
Invariably such a drastic policy has its critics. Hazel Thornton writes on BMJ.com that such a policy 'intrudes on an individual`s right to refuse an imperfect intervention that can result in false negative and false positive diagnoses; can lead to gross over-treatment; to psychological harm and false categorisation as `cancer patient`.'
Thornton's argument misses the obvious point that the harmful effects of some false negative and false positive diagnoses are by far outweighed by the majority of correct diagnoses resulting into early treatment. Of course, patients are entitled to refuse such testing, but surely if they do, it is not unreasonable to ask them to compensate other tax payers for the additional cost their behaviour is causing.
post scriptum: Given that this blog has no discussion forum, I have decided to post the below reply to this blog (with permission by the person posting it).
Do you know that you have a higher chance of being diagnised with some cancers if you are screened? Are you aware that because of false positives and overdiagnosis lots of popular screenings are not even remotely cost-effective because cost of screening+cost of treatment for overdiagnosed cases+ cost of false positives is significantly greater than the savings on less treatment for few?
You can take mammograms as one example and do your math. You can use numbers from this article ( http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content
The balance of benefit and harm for most screening tests is not as clear cut as you think it is. Few peolple benefit tremendously from it, but some are hurt. It'd be nice to have some proof of cost effectiveness before you start penalizing people for not doing it.