Insurance Q&A

November 17, 2009

“Bending The Cost Curve” at what cost?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrroark @ 1:34 pm

New guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (whose stance influences coverage of screening tests by Medicare and many insurance companies) stated Monday that most women don’t need mammograms in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at 50. What’s more, the panel said breast self-exams do no good, and women shouldn’t be taught to do them.

The task force advice is based on its conclusion that screening 1,300 women in their 50s to save one life is worth it, but that screening 1,900 women in their 40s to save a life is not.

The American Cancer Society has been recommending annual mammograms beginning at 40, and it reiterated that position on Monday. “This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over,” the society’s chief medical officer, Dr. Otis Brawley, said in a statement. This “is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives, just not enough of them,” he said. The cancer society feels the benefits outweigh the harms for women in both groups.

If this advice would be part of the government’s health plan, can we call it a “Death Panel” for one of every 1900 women between 40 and 49? And how, in the future, would the count be adjusted for budgetary reasons? In Europe they define a “Rare Disease” as one that affects less than 1 of 2000 people.

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2 Comments »

  1. Interesting entry–check out Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s official statement on the new guidelines: http://livingbeyondbc.wordpress.com/

    Comment by livingbeyondbc — November 18, 2009 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  2. This worries me. In 1950, the incidence of breast cancer was 1 in every 10 women. Now it is 1 in every 4 women. Of course if you are that i woman, your chance of developing breast cancer is 100%. My doctor ordered me to get a mammogram at age forty so he could see what changes occurred as I got older. He ordered another one when I was 45. I am now well into my 50s. Every time I visit my gynecologist, he does a breast exam while simultaneously viewing the 2 mammograms taken when I was 40s. Last year he told me that at the age of 57, it was finally time that I begin getting mammograms yearly. I believe that the decision on when to have mammograms is an issue best decided between doctor and patient. If you think ObamaCare will cost too much money by allowing women to have mammograms too often, I think you need to be asking the doctor why he is ordering them so often. Mammograms are painful. I don’t know anyone who looks forward to having one done. Where is the common sense here?

    Comment by Bunny B. — October 10, 2010 @ 6:27 pm | Reply


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