America’s Rain Man, Joe Biden, made a campaign appearance in Florida last week. During the appearance Biden promised that Obamacare would provide free colonoscopies to all comers.
“Everyone knows, everyone in this room knows that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare by the action he took,” Biden said. “You are now able to go get a wellness exam, and guys, if you conclude you need a colonoscopy because of the feeling you had or you need a breast health examination, you don’t have to pay a co-pay for that.”
According to recent studies, the colonoscopy is one of the most overused procedures covered under Medicare:
“The natural history of polyps going to cancer is incredibly slow — like 20 years,” said Dr. James S. Goodwin, the George & Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Chair in Geriatric Medicine and director of the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and lead researcher on the first study.
That is why the recommendation, for most people, is a colonoscopy screening every 10 years, he said. “Colonoscopy is not benign. One of every 1,000 people winds up in the hospital because of a complication,” Goodwin noted.
There are a number of reasons for the overuse of colonoscopy, Goodwin said. “There is the profit motive — the person recommending the colonoscopy is the person being reimbursed for it,” he said.
Also, the benefit of colonoscopy in reducing colon cancer has made some think that more screening is better, he said. Medicare needs to stop reimbursing doctors for too frequent colonoscopies, Goodwin said.
In 2008, the US Preventive Services Task Force concluded that for persons over 50, without certain specific risk factors, had a greater chance of injury from a colonoscopy that detecting cancer.
In a way, this extraordinary promise, that you can get a colonoscopy for free based on a “feeling you had” is a metaphor for the travesty that the Obama regime has inflicted upon the nation in the name of making better medical care available to anyone. It has taken a marginally useful procedure and made it available to anyone based on their whim, not medical necessity. And the taxpayer picks up the tab. This, in turn, balloons the cost of Medicare, makes it more expensive, and drives up that portion of the federal budget.
While I’m sure The Rain Man assumed that this was an appealing benefit of Medicare, he actually succeeded in demonstrating both why he should not be practicing medicine and the worst feature of Medicare.