Gov’t health panel

I can’t understand why everybody is getting so exercised about the Gov’t appointed medical panel saying that they don’t recommend mammograms for women under the age of 50. And not to teach women to self examine. This is exactly what happens in Europe under socialized medicine and what will start happening in this country as soon as the new health care plan is passed. A gov’t panel decides which plans and procedures are covered and for which particular group of people. It will be cold, hard statistics with cold, hard cut off lines drawn. The statistic that gets me on this one is the one that compares effectivity of mammograms for women in the 40-49 age group with women in the 50-59 group. In the younger group, the procedure saves 1 life in 1900; in the older group, 1 in 1300. If it’s linear, that would mean about 1:1600 at 45 – does it make sense to test there? So the panel arbitrarily or with some economic, actuarial accounting concludes that it makes sense to do older gals but not younger ones. If that makes sense to you, apply for a job on the panel.

And a few days later, another panel – or maybe it was a subcommittee of the same panel – recommends women cut back on PAP tests. Didn’t see any numbers on that except instead of annually, maybe every 3 years. What I’m getting from this is that women must be running up the costs of health care. I’m thinking this isn’t going to play politically – economists be damned. That became very clear when, after a few days of stewing, the gal who heads up Health and Human Services said not to pay any attention to the panel.

I also find it interesting that this particular conclusion is being so widely discussed when the one a month or so back that said men shouldn’t have prostate screening so early and so often was passed over with not much heat or light at all. Same deal – too many false positives given as the reason. In fact with prostate cancer they said that even if you have it, don’t worry about it or rush out and get it taken care of. It probably won’t kill you anyway. Anybody see the trend here. These are the biggest people killers via cancer and most interestingly, the death rates from both of these diseases has been dropping for years – coincident with the increased rate of screenings in the past decade. Get used to it!!!!

But not all these panels are bad. How ‘bout the one that just found that a couple of glasses of beer and/or wine every day are good for you and cut the chance of a heart attack by 50%. If the gals who are concerned about the mammogram or Pap smear take up the wine fix, they will eliminate the stress the first panels created. I guess it could exasperate the concerns though – if you know you won’t have a heart problem, then keeping the cancer demons away becomes more important. Really getting complex. And the move to medical marijuana even further reduces the sting.

Just in case you think that I am not qualified to comment on such a feminine issue as mammograms – wrong, I’ve had one. About 10 years or so back I had a lump in my breast and the doctor sent me to get a mammogram. It was quite an experience. The nurse who was going to administer the procedure asked me if it was OK if someone else observed since it was rare to do a male. A teaching experience. The next thing I knew there were a dozen or so female nurses all gathered around, giggling and pulling my chain. I didn’t have much to squeeze so she had a hard time getting it exactly right. Either that or she was enjoying putting me through the torture. I just smiled and joked with them and when it was over, said something like – “so is this what you guys are all jumpy about? Piece of cake, never felt a thing.” Got a lot of hoots from the gallery.

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