Virtual Colonoscopy: An Early Casualty of Socialized Medicine

The WSJ offers a preview of the impending socialized medicine train wreck:

Last week the Medicare trustees reported that the program has an “unfunded liability” of nearly $38 trillion — which is the amount of benefits promised but not covered by taxes over the next 75 years. So Democrats have decided that the way to close this gap is to create a new “universal” health insurance entitlement for the middle class.

Such thinking may be a non sequitur, but it will have drastic effects on the health care of all Americans — and as it happens, this future is playing out in miniature in Medicare right now. Desperate to prevent medical costs from engulfing the federal budget, the program’s central planners decided last week to deny payment for a new version of one of life’s most unpleasant routine procedures, the colonoscopy. This is a preview of how health care will be rationed when Democrats get their way.

At issue are “virtual colonoscopies,” or CT scans of the abdomen. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of U.S. cancer death but one of the most preventable. Found early, the cure rate is 93%, but only 8% at later stages. Virtual colonoscopies are likely to boost screenings because they are quicker, more comfortable and significantly cheaper than the standard “optical” procedure, which involves anesthesia and threading an endoscope through the lower intestine.

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The virtual colonoscopy sounds like a no-brainer. It’s endorsed by the American Cancer Society and covered by Cigna and UnitedHealthcare — but not by Uncle Sam, because if something turns up, you then need to get the endoscope-up-the-rear procedure. To cut costs, bureaucrats have given virtual colonoscopy a thumbs down.

Decisions like what kind of colonoscopy to get will no longer be up to you and your doctor, but to the same corrupt bureauweenies who are steering the country into a depression. As the red ink rises, the procedures the government feels you’re entitled to will grow fewer and fewer. But of course the point is that when no one (except bureaucrats) can get quality healthcare, we’ll achieve the liberal goal of equality of outcome.

On a tip from Anna B. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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