October 8, 2011

WE CAN'T EVEN GET DEATH PANELS RIGHT IN THE SOCIALIZED MEDICINE WE DO HAVE:

Forty percent of Medicare spending on common cancer screenings unnecessary, probe suggests (Rochelle Sharpe and Elizabeth Lucas, October 7, 2011, iWatch)

Cancer screening tests are vastly overused in the United States, with about 40% of Medicare spending on common preventive screenings regarded as medically unnecessary, an iWatch News investigation reveals. Millions of Americans get such tests more frequently than medically recommended or at times when they cannot gain any proven medical benefit, extracting an enormous financial toll on the nation's health care system. Doctors disregard scientific guidelines out of ignorance, fear of malpractice suits or for financial gain, as patients inundated by medical advertising clamor for extra tests.

In the frenzied hunt for cancer, the risks of the screenings also get overlooked. Besides producing anxiety, screening people for cancer can itself cause injuries -- even death -- or set off a cascade of expensive tests and treatments that can waste more money and create more problems.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force , a panel of independent medical experts, determines which screening tests offer more benefits than risks -- and who should get them. But even though the group's guidelines are considered the gold standard for medical care, its detailed recommendations are largely ignored, an iWatch News ' probe found, and the fiscal consequences are profound.

Medicare spent about $1.9 billion on common cancer screenings for people who were older than government-recommended age limits between 2003 and 2008, according to iWatch News ' examination of a six-year sample of Medicare billing records obtained by iWatch News and The Wall Street Journal. That's about 40% of everything that Medicare spent on breast, colon, prostate and cervical cancer screenings in that time period.

More than $31 million of that money was spent screening people who were in their 90s, the investigation showed.

Breast cancer screening guidelines were disregarded most frequently during this period, according to the iWatch News analysis. More than 22 million mammogram claims were submitted for women at or over the recommended limit of 75, the age when the task force says "evidence of benefits of mammography is lacking."

Posted by at October 8, 2011 10:50 AM
  

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