Obama Health Exam Under Attack
NPR’s Scott Hensley reports:
For starters, take the whiz-bang CT scan that looked for traces of calcium in his coronary arteries, a screening test for heart disease. Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, writes she was “troubled” by that scan in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
How come? Redberg, who also edits the journal, says the scan poses a real, though low, cancer risk and a “lack of proven benefit” for people at low risk of heart disease. That’s why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force doesn’t recommend it for routine use. In fact, Redberg writes, Obama should just quit smoking–that would do more for him than any result he might get from the snazzy CT scan.
Then there’s the cost. For the CT scan, figure at least $500. See this New York Times article from a few years back on the debate about CT angiography.
Obama also got screened for colon cancer, which isn’t recommended for men under 50, Redberg notes. What’s more, he got a virtual colonoscopy, another fancy sort of CT scan which also isn’t recommended by the USPSTF. You might have trouble getting your insurance company to pay for one of those.
But, as Redberg concludes, it’s not likely Obama “will have a dispute with his insurance company over the costs of the tests performed at his physical examination, whether or not they were necessary….”
Politico’s Chris Frates cites this report and charges, “So for all his talk about doing away with costly tests in favor of proven, cost effective medicine, Obama’s not exactly setting a good example.”
Now, my doctorate is in philosophy, not medicine. But I know enough about diagnostics (I’m a faithful follower of “House, MD”) to be leery of second guessing the medical staff of the president of the United States from afar.
Maybe Obama isn’t at low risk of heart disease. Maybe there are reasons that, despite being slightly under 50, Obama needed a colonoscopy. Perhaps he has a family history. Perhaps one of his doctors figured that being President of the United States constitutes an additional risk factor. (Indeed, it’s well known that being president “ages” a man. So, perhaps there’s a Top Secret conversion chart that shows Obama is actually 57 in President Years.)
I didn’t vote for Obama. And, if I had my druthers, I’d rather have Joe Biden as president than Obama. But I’d nonetheless very much hope Obama lives out the rest of his term in good health. (I wish him well after that, too, although I’d prefer he lose the POTUS risk factor.) And, yes, I’m willing to pay my share of the cost of keeping him in good working order.